It Doesn't Matter That Knicks Won't Rehire Isiah Thomas

Thursday's report sounds good, but it has no weight

By Josh Alper
|  Thursday, May 5, 2011  |  Updated 4:18 PM EDT
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It Doesn't Matter That Knicks Won't Rehire Isiah Thomas

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Will these men keep on smiling?

It's the kind of bold headline that makes you think that there's a real story being told in the article to follow.

"Dolan Tells Donnie He's Done With Isiah" splashed across the top of the back page of Thursday's New York Post and the intended response was one of great joy that the Knicks owner has finally seen the error of his Isiah Thomas-loving ways. Once you read the story by Marc Berman, however, you can tell that there's about as much to this story as there is to the Tiki Barber feel sorry for me story that dominates the rest of the back page.

The truth is that the sources leaking info to Berman are saying no such thing about James Dolan being done with Thomas. They tell the writer that Dolan "has remained friendly with Thomas but no longer trusts him to the point of giving him another basketball job."

That's not being done with someone, that's simply understanding that the reaction to hiring Thomas to do anything with the Knicks, up to and including cleaning the toilets, would be met with a backlash that could wind up damaging Dolan's bottom line. Dolan made it very clear last summer that Thomas didn't need an official title to be part of the decision making process, so not being hired by the team is totally insignificant.

Thomas's fingers were all over the Carmelo Anthony deal. "It doesn't matter what you give up or what salary you take back if you wind up with the best player" was practically his motto during his time running the Knicks. 

Not giving him an actual job is symbolic, but it isn't a sign that there's a real difference in the way that the Knicks are going to do business in the future. If Donnie Walsh comes back, there will be discussion of his increased autonomy and independence in basketball making decisions.

And he'll have it, right up to the point where Dolan wants something done that Walsh doesn't want to do or doesn't do quick enough to satisfy an owner who hasn't shown the slightest ability to work within the framework Berman's report lays down.

Whether Thomas is there to facilitate the takeover or not really doesn't matter half as much as the fact that Dolan's still the guy overseeing the whole operation. 

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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