Will Isiah’s Plan Work?

By Jerald LeVon Hoover
Updated: February 26, 2005

NEW YORK – Many a Knicks fans are scratching their heads right about now wondering, ‘what is going on’ with their team. With centers Nazr Mohammed and Vin Baker dealt to San Antonio and Houston, some are probably even thinking that President and GM, Isiah Thomas is playing the role of Stevie Wonder as interior decorator. This team’s make up has the same scary look of Scott Layden’s power midget squad. You remember the gluttony of power forwards that made up the roster: Clarence Weatherspoon, Kurt Thomas (masquerading as a center) and Othella Harrington just to name a few.

This team is suddenly taking on that very same look: Kurt Thomas (again taking on center duties) Jerome Williams, Michael Sweetney, new comers, Maurice Taylor and Malik Rose. All of those players are more or less undersized power forwards let alone centers. The only “official” Knicks center on the team is, Bruno Sundov, and he couldn’t dominate in the Rucker League.

For all of Isiah’s aspirations to trim roster salary, he seems to be taking on ‘more’ salary; 31 million dollars worth. The Knicks did pick up a few more first round draft picks, albeit low first round picks courtesy of the Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs. Maybe Isiah on his recent European scouting trip saw a few players that he fell in love with that he knows he can grab in the first round that no one is thinking about. Or maybe Isiah is making change simply just to make change. Either way short of bizarre, the make up of the team is pretty confusing.

Next year’s roster for sure will not resemble what we see now. Kurt Thomas is likely (as he has been for the last seven seasons) to be dealt. Kurt will probably land in Minnesota for Wally Szczerbiak. That’s if the Knicks aren’t able to find a comparable starting small forward in the June draft. Tim Thomas is most certainly out of Gotham. Isiah will probably take ‘anything’ short of a bag a nachos for him. With his salary coming off the books in 2006 both he and Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway will be very attractive to teams trying to clear cap space.

One this is for sure, once Isiah gets his roster together he must stick with it instead of playing check and checkmate games. At some point the team has to develop some sort of consistency and continuity. That comes from building trust in one another and also familiarity of playing together for a while and knowing one’s tendencies.

Isiah for all it’s worth has been known to be a shrewd drafter. While with the Toronto Raptor’s he plucked both Marcus Camby and Damon Stoudamire. He took chances while coaching the Indiana Pacer’s and grabbed New Jersey’s Al Harrington straight out of high school. And with the NBA Draft being more of a crap-shoot whereas as Lottery picks often do not pan out to be all that they were cracked out to be and lower level and even second round picks turning out to be steals; see the talented, Trevor Ariza.

So if Knicks fans are patient and willing to sacrifice a win or two this year, then maybe, just maybe Isiah is doing it the right way. But, with the team at present made up of at least seven guys that play power forward there is a lot of head scratching going on.