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The Heat Is On Isiah, Knicks

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Just made it down here to check out the New York Knicks. . .I know, why them? They stink. But there isn't anyone in the NBA in a hotter seat than President of Basketball Operations/Coach Isiah Thomas, who admitted today -- as he has often since he was forced to turn around the team -- that he is in a "tough situation." And, he doesn't look the least bit thrilled by the situation. And how could he be? How often do you see a situation where the team's owner publicly tosses someone in the skillet and throws in a pat of butter to see if he will fry?

After the Larry Brown fiasco played out (wait, it's still playing out) with him being fired after a 23-59 stinker of a season, Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan told Isiah in late June that he wanted results - "significant improvement" -- or Isiah was out of there, following 2 ½ seasons in Gotham that have sent the Knicks spiraling into wretchedness on the court and a steadily balooning payroll. The Knicks would be lost in the lowsy abyss with Atlanta, Charlotte and Portland if not for the fact that they have the highest payroll in the league (about $121 million), they are in New York and there seemingly is little hope for the immediate future.

The Knicks players tried to sound upbeat, tried to make it seem as if the redundant roster won't be a problem, tried to make it seem like this will be a big year for them, individually and as a team. But it's hard to make someone believe you when it sounds like you don't believe it yourself. The Knicks will be better this year. I didn't think that roster should've won just 23 games, no matter how many shoot-first point guards and overweight centers were on the roster. They shouldn't have been that bad.

Former Wizard Jared Jeffries decided to join this mess in the offseason, signing a five-year, $30-million deal, and he's already struggling to put the ball in the hole. On the first day of camp Tuesday, Jeffries missed three free throws, including an airball, which forced the team to run three windsprints after practice. Jeffries, looking to endear himself to his new teammates, offered to run the sprints alone but when he lined up to run, his teammates joined him. Thomas is trying to get his team to come together as one. For now, it seems like everybody is buying in. It still might not be enough.

By Michael Lee  |  October 4, 2006; 1:44 PM ET
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Couldn't the Wiz pick up an "overweight" center for cheap, and at least have a big body performing at a c- level in the paint?

Posted by: Ed From richmond | October 4, 2006 1:18 PM | Report abuse

It won't work out, and I say good riddance to Jared Jeffries. I hope he enjoys being just the latest overpaid free agent on that muddled roster. Geez, Isiah is worse than most GM's in this league. The old facetious saying about a 7-footer with a pulse doesn't look so silly when you look at a majority of Isiah's offseason moves.

Posted by: Colin | October 4, 2006 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Can someone please call out Larry Brown! They played like the bad news bears last year, and he quit on them at times. they should have won more games last year with that roster. not a title, but more games. Brown was not the most professional. the routine of breaking down players and building them up is a little played out. If he did not like Marbury's play they should have sat him, not bicker in the press daily.

Posted by: not a knicks fan, but | October 4, 2006 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Why on earth is the Post covering the Knicks training camp? Oh, "it's a big story." Whatever. It's an easy story -- dump on Isiah, etc., etc., etc. There is nothing in the above report that everyone hasn't heard 200 times before until you hit the final paragraph about Jeffries' free throws, and I read that material in a NY paper today (Lee probably did too). How about doing some real reporting on the home team, you know, like journalists?

Posted by: sean | October 4, 2006 2:14 PM | Report abuse

I'm a Wiz fan first, but I've always liked the Knicks having previously lived in NYC. I know a lot of folks relish their (the Knickes) downfall, but I've always thought it was in the NBA's best interest to have a strong team in NYC. With that said, I like a lot of their players.

Their problems aren't unlike ours: toughness in the paint, lack of rebounding in the paint, particularly from the center spot. And they're not organizated on either end of the floor. But wasn't that the Wizards just a few seasons ago? If they could get organized, they've got talent to compete. Now, or course, the PG has to buy into that. Which brings me to what I think is the biggest problem for the Knicks, and one player I never really liked: Marbury. Didn't really like him in college either. I personally think they won't be good until his influence on the team is diminished. I think they'll definately win more games, but not be good. It just doesn't seem like he's much interested in anything but himself. At least on the NBA floor.

The other problem, obviously, is that they've overpaid many of their players. And overpaid to obtain them. Their roster doesn't "look" like a well-formed NBA roster, but who knows what that looks like anymore with teams like Phoenix and Dallas changing the game?

And I'm rooting for Jared. No hard feelings there. I don't know why we have to dislike him just 'cause he doesn't play for the Wizards. He seems like a good guy.

Finally, I really want the Eastern Conference to get better. My desire would be for the Wizards to dominate, of course. But to dominate a really strong southeast division of a really strong eastern conference. How cool would it be to see marque games against teams like the Knicks....and win. I'm all for marque matchups against the Charlotte's of the world too, but come on, NYC is basketball. And that, to me, would be so much more enjoyable that dominating a weak Knicks team. Who wants to win on the cheap? When we rip their hearts out, it hurts them so much more when their team is good. When they think they actually have a shot.

Posted by: sting | October 4, 2006 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Which team is in a bigger hole, the current Knicks or the San Francisco Giants once Bonds leaves/retires?

Posted by: George Templeton | October 4, 2006 2:54 PM | Report abuse

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