The latest drama surrounding the New York Knicks is sure to get uglier before it gets better. Head Coach Larry Brown and his remaining four years and $40 million of his contract are the topic of discussion. It is obvious that he is not the right coach for this team. A 23-59 season filled with what can be mildly described as 'utter confusion' justifies that. But will he accept a rumored buyout?
James Dolan has played a big part in creating this mess, and he will lose no matter which way you look at it. If he does in fact convince Brown to depart peacefully, he will have to fork over a ton of money. $25 million has been the speculated amount. If he outright fires Brown, the entire $40 million has to be handed to him. In the small chance that Brown stays, he will be facing a team that did not get along with him and the majority of players gave him a big 'thumbs down' in their exit interviews with Team President/General Manager Isiah Thomas.
Perhaps the most puzzling thing about Brown was his ever changing lineups. There was never any continuity and a comfort-level for the players. One day they were in the starting lineup to only find themself on the Inactive List the following day. He would start a player just because they were playing a road game in their respective home town. Stephon Marbury was asked to move to shooting guard from point guard, then stayed at the point, then was asked to pass to his teammates more, then told to shoot more. Brown made public comments to the media talking about his players in such a way that was better done behind closed doors and in private. If you didn't know he had a Hall of Fame resume, you would have thought that he was a rookie coach.
Speculation is that Thomas would take over in a dual role. He would still be GM, but add Head Coach to his title. Does he deserve a chance at rectifying the team that he built? That is debatable. What has he done to show that he can be an effective coach? On the other side of the coin, let him have to deal with this head on. Thomas will prove that he is a magician if he can get this team to .500.
The only sensible way to look at the entire situation is that a coach does not count against the salary cap. If the Knicks attempted to acquire the type of players that are 'Larry Brown'-types, they would need a complete roster overhaul. That is just not possible with the contracts that they have on their team. If either Brown or three-quarters of the roster had to go, it's easier to do it with one move that will not affect the cap.
And what will Thomas do with this cast of cast-offs? Will he embrace Marbury and let him do his 'Starbury' act that has not produced a winning team all throughout his career? Will he trade either Marbury or Steve Francis, who really cannot play together because they are similar players. He most certainly will give Eddy Curry every opportunity to succeed. Thomas traded for him last year and included the number one pick that they will not have in the NBA Draft next month. He will have to justify that deal, which has been criticized.
The best thing for this team to do is play their group of youngsters, such as Channing Frye, David Lee, and Nate Robinson. Give them the minutes they need to gain experience. Curry is still very young, even though he has been in the league for some time since declaring for the draft after high school.
Jamaal Crawford was perhaps the team's best player in the second half of the season. More likely trade bait than a keeper, his offense was on and he was a team player, coming off the bench after being a starter most of his career.
A tough situation no matter which way you slice it. Brown has been a vagabond throughout his coaching career, so it should come as no surprise that he is probably on his way out. His next destination is said to be either Golden State or Sacramento. The first step is for Brown to sit down with Dolan and Thomas. When he leaves the office, things may be very different with the Knicks. A shake-up? We shall see.