NEW YORK -- Scott Layden was fired Monday as president of the New York Knicks and Isiah Thomas was hired to replace him, a source told the Associated Press.
The move comes after New York missed the playoffs the past two seasons with a roster largely assembled by Layden. The Knicks are 10-18 this season, and recent speculation centered on coach Don Chaney possibly losing his job.
Instead, the odd man out is Layden, who replaced Ernie Grunfeld in the summer of 1999 after the Knicks were coming off an appearance in the NBA Finals.
The team scheduled an afternoon news conference but would not specify what was being announced. An Eastern Conference official who spoke on condition of anonymity confirmed Layden was out and Thomas in.
Thomas has been out of the NBA since being fired over the summer by the Indiana Pacers, where he was the coach for three seasons.
"I want to stay in coaching," Thomas told the AP last month. "I enjoy it. I had a great deal of success helping shape and mold young people, making the playoffs with the youngest team to do it in 25 years. I got bit by the bug.
"I'll wait for my next opportunity," he said. "I wouldn't rule out college but I prefer the pro game."
Thomas' first task with the Knicks will be evaluating a roster with the league's highest payroll and ascertaining whether any of those massive contracts can be moved in a trade.
Layden's last major move was the four-team deal that sent Latrell Sprewell to Minnesota and brought Keith Van Horn to New York. The deal has looked tilted in the Timberwolves' favor over the first two months of the season as Sprewell has averaged 17.2 points for Minnesota while Van Horn has struggled, averaging 14.8 points and getting benched for the fourth quarter of several recent games.
Prior to the Van Horn trade, Layden's biggest move came on draft night in 2002 when he sent Marcus Camby, Mark Jackson and the Knicks' lottery pick to Denver for Antonio McDyess.
McDyess fractured his kneecap in an exhibition game and missed the entire 2002-03 season, finally returning 11 games ago.
With the Knicks losing regularly while failing to draw the sellout crowds that were a staple during the 1990s, Layden became a lightning rod for criticism. The anti-Layden feeling was so strong in New York that when LeBron James was selected with the overall No. 1 pick in the draft last June, commissioner David Stern's announcement of the selection was drowned out by a loud chant of "Fire Layden."
James Dolan, chairman of the team's corporate owner, Cablevision, notified Layden of the move late Monday morning, the AP's source said.
Layden did not answer a call placed to his cell phone.
"Layden was fired as the president of the Knicks on Friday, replaced by the only executive in the league that possibly has a more tarnished rep -- Isiah Thomas.
That has to hurt.
'He would have been the last human being on earth that I thought would've gotten that job,' one league executive told Insider. 'That's the premiere GM job in the NBA, the team is a mess, and the Knicks need someone with experience to get them through this. Isiah Thomas isn't that guy.'"
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I didn't think it was possible for there to be a way for me to despise the Knicks more, but naming Isiah Thomas as GM might have done it. Please, Isiah, name yourself head coach of the Knicks and make it a complete fiasco.
As a New York Knick fan, I have been counting the days, hours, minutes and seconds of Layden's atrocious tenure, waiting for that one great final moment where he would be fired as general manager. And now that this day has finally come, I must say--can the Knicks ownership fucking suck any more than this? Isiah fucking Thomas? Why? Why must you do this to us? Why? As mentioned, this is the time for someone with experience to take over. Someone who can take this dying franchise and turn it around. Gone would be the overpriced and overrated players and mindless direction. In would be a rebuilding period that would make the Knicks one of the more dominating forces in the East again. But as if it couldn't get any more incompetent than Scott bin Layden, we get ISIAH FUCKING THOMAS. My only question is..why??
I'm just waiting for Isiah to make his "I'm pronouncing my natural presence of authority" trade that all GMs tend to make when they arrive onto a job.
And considering the only two pieces of commodoty they have to play with is a guy who just got there and a just past his prime shooting guard (not counting McDyess, but I don't see a lot of teams pulling the trigger on that deal right now), and a team full over overpaid mediocrity, I think this would tie the hands of the best of GMs.
But Allan Houston, put the house/condo up for sale NOW.
Nobody out there is going to want to choke down Houston's cap strangling contract - he's a knick for the life of that thing - McDyess could get some interest though if he shows over the next month that he can still play with his knee - he's a UFA at the end of the season so he's prime salary dumping material
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Ralph Sampson was a force. His skill level was incredible. He could run the break on the wing and dunk from the block. He could pull up from 17 feet and bury it. Playing forward had him out of the post bending his knees guarding other forwards.