By Jerry Mittleman.
The Knicks General Manager, Isiah Thomas is at it again. The recent trade that brought Steve Francis to Madison Square Garden continues the same disturbing trend that’s characterized Thomas’ stewardship; lots of action and flash and very little in the way of long term planning.
Thomas’ latest deal sent two players who weren’t in the Knicks future plans for a scintillating, multi-talented player who shouldn’t be in the Knicks future either. The acquisition of Francis might add a few victories to the Knicks woeful record but does nothing to address their real problems. Both he and incumbant point guard Stephon Marbury are dominant, shoot first, pass later playmakers who require the ball in their hands. It’s even more incredible that the Knicks acquired Francis, while coach Larry Brown is in the middle of conducting a master’s level tutorial for Marbury, on the fine art of running a team. As old cliché goes, the Knicks will need to play with two balls. Check that, since they also picked up Galen Rose the other week, better make that three.
Larry Brown’s teams have always thrived on chemistry, team play and rugged defense. The struggling Knicks need Rose and now Francis about as much as a polar bear needs an extra blizzard.
Many of Thomas’ moves over the past year can be seen in retrospect as busts. Mid-season a year ago, he traded his starting center Nazr Mohammad to San Antonio while adding Malik Rose to the Knicks collection of power forwards. Then needing to strengthen the Knicks premier game, he traded their best power forward Kurt Thomas to Phoenix for Quinton Richardson. Now instead of being overstocked in the frontcourt the Knicks have a log jam in the backcourt. Just imagine, if the Knicks had Mohammad and Thomas in their rotation today instead of Rose and Richardson.
Even Thomas’ best deal in the last 12 months, comes with plenty of strings attached. Eddy Curry is an abundantly talented young center, but most of his vast potential is so far unfulfilled. In order to obtain Curry, the Knicks traded their first round draft choice this year, which could easily be the top pick or two of the entire draft.
Thomas’ recent moves smack of desparation and bring up the question of how much imput Larry Brown has in personel decisions. For example, Earl Watson, who is a good distributor and a tenacious defender, was also on the market and would have been a much better fit for Brown’s style of play. Instead of dealing for Watson who would be a fine complementary player and an excellent backup for Marbury they went for Francis who might easily wind up competing with his backcourt mate.
I guess, we shouldn’t forget, Thomas is performing for the Broadway crowd where a Stevie Franchise looks a lot more appealing then an Earl Watson.