Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Updated: August 12, 10:10 AM ET
Isiah Thomas nixes Knicks job
ESPN.com news services
Isiah Thomas is not taking the consultant's job with the New York Knicks after all.
"After speaking with Commissioner [David] Stern and Knicks executives, it has become apparent that my new agreement violates certain NBA bylaws," Thomas said in a statement. "Because of this, I have decided to rescind my contract with the team. I have nothing but the utmost respect for [owner] Jim Dolan, [general manager] Donnie Walsh, [coach] Mike D'Antoni and the entire Knicks organization, and I want to thank them for affording me this opportunity."
ESPN 1050 New York had reported earlier Wednesday that Thomas was in communication with the commissioner's office and then rescinded his acceptance because of the conflict-of-interest bylaws of the NBA. League personnel are not allowed contact with players who are not yet eligible for the draft, which Thomas would have in his role as Florida International University coach.
Thomas could have chosen to leave that job and keep the Knicks position. Instead, he thanked the organization for giving him another chance.
"Although I'm disappointed that Isiah will not be working with the Knicks as a consultant, I continue to believe in his basketball knowledge, including his ability to judge talent," MSG chairman Dolan said. "He's a good friend of mine and of the organization and I will continue to solicit his views. He will always have strong ties to me and the team. We wish him continued success at FIU."
Stern issued a statement reiterating that the league had a problem with the arrangement.
"We have been informed by the Knicks that Isiah Thomas has rescinded his consulting agreement with the team," Stern said in a statement. "As a result, it is not necessary for the league to take any formal action on the proposed arrangement. However, we have reminded the Knicks of NBA rules that prohibit team personnel, including consultants, from having contact with players not eligible for the draft."
Thomas had accepted a consulting position with the Knicks on Friday but planned to continue coaching the Golden Panthers. He still is bothered by the results of his Knicks years.
"One of the biggest regrets of my life is that the Knicks didn't perform up to the standards the fans had every right to expect while I was in charge," Thomas said in the statement. "I take full responsibility for that. I was very much looking forward to this unique opportunity to help the organization do what I do best: find basketball talent. I wish the team nothing but success in the future."
The Knicks had released a statement Friday saying that Thomas' role would be to "assist the team's senior management in various capacities, including player recruitment."
Thomas served as Knicks president from December 2003 to April 2008, also serving as coach during the last two seasons of his stint in New York. He was fired after a dismal 2007-08 season in which the Knicks were 23-59.
Despite a Knicks tenure marked by losing and controversy -- including being the subject of a sexual harassment lawsuit that cost the organization $11.6 million -- Thomas has maintained a close relationship to Dolan. Thomas assisted the Knicks during this offseason's free-agent frenzy, including meeting with LeBron James' representatives in Cleveland.
Walsh credited Thomas for helping the Knicks land Amare Stoudemire, who signed a five-year, $99.7 million free-agent contract with New York last month.
That fueled speculation in New York that Thomas, a favorite of Dolan, could return to the Knicks. But Dolan said Wednesday he is confident in his management team.
"I also believe Donnie Walsh has done a terrific job since joining the Knicks and my tremendous respect for him has only grown since he's joined the organization," Dolan said. "I'm confident that the work that Donnie, coach Mike D'Antoni and their staffs have done this summer has the team poised for long-term success."
The decision should calm members of the basketball community who questioned the partnership. Among them was Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who said he would decline an offer to be a paid consultant of an NBA team.
"I don't think you can be in both worlds, in an official basis. I think that makes people in both worlds somewhat angry about it, or concerned," Krzyzewski said. "You're getting a leg up, and in college we definitely shouldn't do that."
Information from ESPN.com senior writer Andy Katz and The Associated Press contributed to this report.