Saturday, February 6, 2010
Thomas says he wants to build at FIU
MIAMI -- Isiah Thomas insisted Saturday that he is "completely focused" on his current job at Florida International and would not reveal if he had any talks about becoming coach and president of the Los Angeles Clippers.
Foxsports.com reported that Thomas is under consideration for those jobs by the Clippers, a story that the team denied to ESPNLosAngeles.com.
The Basketball Hall of Fame player is in his first season coaching FIU, which lost to North Texas 68-66 on Saturday to fall to 7-19 overall and 4-9 in the Sun Belt Conference.
He didn't even wait for the questions about the Clippers to be asked Saturday, taking the initiative by addressing it first after the game.
"Before we talk about the game, let me just clear up some other business," Thomas said. "I'm very happy here at FIU. We've got a great recruiting class coming in next year, one of the best recruiting classes in the school's history, and my 2011 class, I hope that's even better. I think we've got a chance to build something really special here."
FIU athletic director Pete Garcia said he expects Thomas to be back next season.
A high-profile coach in a lower-profile program, Thomas has known for some time that his name is going to be mentioned when opportunities open at both the college and NBA levels.
There have been some reports in recent weeks that Thomas could be among the candidates to take over at DePaul, and this is the second time in the last 11 months that his name was linked to the Clippers.
He signed a five-year contract with FIU last April, one that will pay him somewhere around $1.3 million in all.
"I love what I'm doing," Thomas said. "I like being in between the four lines and I love coaching."
Thomas was a star player at Indiana and then with the Detroit Pistons, but his coaching career hasn't had anywhere near the same rate of success.
He coached the Pacers before moving to the New York Knicks, beginning a tenure that was stormy at best, marred by off-court scandal, on-court mediocrity, fans chanting for his firing and plenty of back-page fodder for the city's tabloids.
Needing a new start, Thomas accepted a chance to begin again at FIU, and insists he plans on staying put -- for now, anyway.
"I like what I'm doing now," Thomas said. "I don't think you look any further than that. I love the challenge that's in front of me and we're on the right track. We've got good recruits coming in in '10 and we've got good recruits coming in in '11 and, knock on wood, we'll have good recruits coming in in '12. If we can get the school behind us and get the support and keep building, I think we can do good things here."