Isiah Thomas is a polarizing figure in sports management. Some people think he’s the worst manager in the history of the NBA, while others think he’s the worst manager in the history of all sports, ever, in the history of the universe. And from a report this morning, Donnie Walsh is similarly wrapped up in that fierce debate.
The New York Daily News reports this morning that Walsh nearly quit after learning that Dolan had re-hired Isiah Thomas as a consultant, with a source saying Walsh finds the whole thing “distasteful.”
Now, bear in mind that Walsh has a history with Thomas prior to New York, hiring him as a coach in Indiana. Furthermore, Walsh thanked Thomas during the introductory presser for Amar’e Stoudemire, and was at least somewhat involved in the decision to send Thomas before LeBron James this summer for the last pitch to James in free agency on behalf of the Knicks.
So it would seem a little odd for Walsh to just go running off upon Thomas’ hiring. A more plausible scenario would simply be Walsh considering walking away based on any move that compromises his authority, if it was Dolan that made the decision to bring back Thomas. Expect the Knicks to get out in front of this one and have Walsh make some comments about his decision to bring back Thomas.
What is clear is that everyone and their mother is baffled by the Knicks’ decision to re-hire Thomas.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich’s wife, Erin, died yesterday.
That sad news was felt throughout the NBA, and it obviously affects San Antonio most closely. That includes for tonight’s Game 3 against the Warriors.
Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News:
Ettore Messina was a longtime head coach in Europe. The Spurs lead assistant also took over for a few regular-season games Popovich missed. So, making – rather than advising – coaching decisions won’t be a brand new challenge to Messina.
But down 2-0 to defending-champion Golden State is a tough place to make an NBA playoff debut.
On the bright side, there will be no pressure. Not only has San Antonio been outclassed the first two games of the series, focus is rightly on the Popovich family. A win would be a pleasant surprise and help Messina – who’s up for the Hornets job – in his pursuit of a head-coaching position. A loss would be quickly forgotten with more important matters at hand.
To that end, hopefully the time away allows Popovich the space he needs to grieve. That matters far more than a basketball game.
The Knicks are casting a wide net in their coaching search.
It’ll apparently include a familiar, though surprising, name.
TNT analyst Kenny Smith will interview for the New York Knicks’ head-coaching job on Friday, a source told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.
A quality organization, the Rockets, interviewed Smith (in 2016, before hiring Mike D’Antoni). So, this isn’t proof of the Knicks’ oddball thinking. (There are plenty of better examples, if you wish).
Steve Kerr opened the door for former players to go straight from TV to being an NBA head coach without having any coaching experience. He’s been a smash hit with the Warriors.
But Kerr was also the Suns’ general manager before Golden State hired him. Smith has no front-office experience.
So, it’s tough to judge Smith, whose role on television is more to entertain than inform (though he does both). He’ll have to really wow in his interview to get the job.
But at least he has that opportunity.
Nate McMillan slipped up in his handling of Victor Oladipo‘s early fouls during the Pacers’ Game 2 loss to the Cavaliers last night.
Then, the Indiana coach literally slipped while arguing that LeBron James should have been called for offensively fouling Lance Stephenson.
In her on-court interview with LeBron James following the Cavaliers’ Game 2 win over the Pacers last night, TNT sideline reporter Allie LaForce asked him about the death of Gregg Popovich’s wife.
LeBron appeared emotional as he gathered his thoughts.
That prompted some to criticize LaForce for ambushing LeBron on a sensitive subject on live TV. But that’s not what happened.
I’m not on social media right now, but I was made aware through some friends through texts that a question was asked to me postgame, and a lot of people feel I was blindsided. That is absolutely false. Allie LaForce told me that she was going to ask the question and if it was OK.
And once I started talking about it, once we were on air, actually my emotions kind of took over. And that was just my emotions coming straight from my heart about the late Erin Popovich.
It’s unfortunate. It’s a tragic loss. My thoughts, my prayers, once again goes out to the Popovich family, to Gregg, to the Spurs family, to the whole Spurs fan base.
And also guys, please get off Allie LaForce’ back, because she followed the proper protocol and she warned me. So, get off her back, man. She’s very professional, and she does a great job at her work.
Like I said, thoughts and prayers to the heavens above. We all know the man above never makes mistakes, even when we question it. But it’s a sad, tragic time right now for the NBA family, and we’re all praying and hoping for the best.
It would have been surprising if LaForce hadn’t done that. Somewhere between nearly nobody and absolutely nobody in her position is trying to embarrass players.