Even Chad Ford is giving Isiah the love (provided he gets Dampier, too).
What Isiah Thomas wants ... Isiah Thomas gets.
With his owner writing blank checks and his town seemingly the No. 1 free-agent destination in the NBA, the Knicks' president seems to be on the verge of doing the impossible – completely rebuilding the cellar-dwelling New York Knicks in less than a year. Thomas has actively pursued free agents Jamal Crawford and Erick Dampier all summer and appeared Wednesday evening to be close to signing both players.
If Dampier agrees to accept the Knicks' mid-level contract, the Knicks should be in pretty good shape this year. The team is also on the verge of signing veteran forward Vin Baker with its $1.6 million exception and recently signed promising second-round forward Trevor Ariza to a multiyear deal.
Their lineup could end up looking like this:
PG: Stephon Marbury, Moochie Norris. SG: Allan Houston, Crawford, Penny Hardaway. SF: Tim Thomas, Shandon Anderson, Trevor Ariza. PF: Thomas, Williams, Mike Sweetney. C: Dampier, Mohammed, Baker.
That's a major upgrade from the roster Isiah inherited from Scott Layden: Charlie Ward, Howard Eisley and Frank Williams at the point; Houston and Anderson at the two; Keith Van Horn and Clarence Weatherspoon at the three; Antonio McDyess, Travis Knight and Sweetney at the four and Thomas, Mutombo, Michael Doleac, Maciej Lampe and Slavko Vranes at the five.
For someone who's been very critical of Thomas in the past, I have to admit that, on paper at least, that's a very impressive upgrade. The Knicks' front line and backcourt are both rock solid. They have great depth. And, for the first time ever, the Knicks actually have several promising young players in Crawford, Sweetney and Ariza who they can develop.
In the East, I think that's good enough to get them a three or four seed (behind only Detroit, Indiana and possibly Miami) and make them a very dangerous playoff team. There will be issues with Houston's health and some serious chemistry problems to solve. But, if they pull all of this off and are successful on the court, Isiah will get some votes for executive of the year.
The knock on Isiah will be that he's now traded away all of his cap flexibility for the next century. The team's payroll next season will be a mind-boggling $103 million. Marbury, Houston, Crawford, Anderson, Kurt Thomas and Williams are all locked into huge long-term deals. However, Isiah still retains some flexibility. Next season, Hardaway, Norris, Thomas and Mohammed are all in the last year of their contracts, giving Isiah more attractive trading pieces if things don't work out this year.
And believe it or not, Isiah might not be done. While the Knicks will end up using all of their money this summer if they sign Damp to the mid-level, trades aren't out of the question. Thomas also has his eye on Vince Carter and has been trying to work out something with the Raptors.
Now that Crawford is in the fold and more than capable of being the team's starting point guard, would he consider moving Marbury to Toronto (wouldn't Stephon love that?) for Carter? It's the only trade the Raptors would even consider with the Knicks. There's also significant interest in Kurt Thomas throughout the league, though it's lessened somewhat by that huge extension he signed last year.
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I wonder if Dampier's just saying that(going to NY for MLE) to get Atlanta to pony up more cash. And even if Damp does go to NY for the mid-level, does he play like he did last year or like he did the previous 4 seasons?
As for Carter, he might want to go to NY, but I don't think Toronto wants anyone from NY outside of Marbury and Kurt Thomas. Vince might get traded, but I don't think it's to the Knicks, especially now that both teams are in the same division.
The Knicks are not going to be a very good team. It's a good thing they play in the weaker East, because this team has a bunch of odd personalities that I can't see meshing. Isiah better like what he sees, because he's taken on a ton of contracts.
According to Vin Baker's agent, Vin is getting more than the $1m exception and that would kill any hopes or possibilities of the Knicks getting Dampier. Nazr Mohammed should be a capable body in the middle as the Knicks make their run for the #8 playoff spot.....
Folk singers are always liberal pansies, but not me.....I sing for my fellow conservatives...care to hear "Shoot the Hippie out of the Redwood Tree" ?
I think I see what you mean, and it's probably good that the small conference champions get into the field of 64. Though I was initially thinking that those #16-caliber seeds would at least have a shot at a win in the first/play-in round (96 -> 64).