If Isiah Thomas has not already done it himself, the NBA might be heading toward closing the door on Thomas's dream of getting back into the NBA -- specifically as general manager of the New York Knicks.
Yahoo! Sports is reporting today that the NBA's investigation into charges that the Knicks held illegal pre-draft workouts while Thomas was running the team's basketball operations is widening, and that Thomas could end up facing a suspension from the league.
Here is some of Adrian Wojnarowski's report:
The NBA has enlisted an outside law firm to probe the circumstances of the workouts – including one in which Indiana Pacers guard Brandon Rush said he suffered a severe knee injury – and sources say more tips keep flowing in from around the league. Several teams want severe sanctions for the Knicks, because these charges dig to the heart of competitive balance and fairness. Beyond monetary fines and forfeiture of future draft picks for Donnie Walsh’s regime, league sources say any uncovering of Thomas’ possible complicity in potential violations could result in a suspension to be tacked onto his future return to the NBA.
In the end, that could be moot for this simple reason: Thomas may never work in the NBA again. No one in the league has done more for Thomas’ post-playing career than Walsh, and yet Thomas has gone out of his way to undermine his benefactor and try to get the GM job back for himself. If that’s how Thomas treats the man responsible for his $20 million coaching contract with the Pacers – the man who treated Thomas with dignity upon replacing him in New York – what chance of loyalty would someone else have with hiring Thomas?
After his recent interview with ESPN New York’s Ian O’Connor, where Thomas described himself as a visionary, it was suggested by many that Thomas sounded delusional. There’s no delusion. He’s too sharp, too tactical. This is a plan of attack; a foolish one, but a plan nonetheless. Thomas wants to redirect the narrative of his Knicks years, revise the history and redirect blame on his failures.
Pity those poor kids at Florida International, because it’s clear Thomas sees the job as beneath him – just as he would a scouting assignment in the NBA or a player personnel position. All this tells potential NBA employers is that Thomas will never be satisfied with a low-level rehab post until he’s undercut everyone on the masthead and taken over the franchise. There are more qualified front-office executives who would offer far more trust and far less drama. Thomas is fading fast with Dolan, and the rest of the NBA is already done with him.
Now, Dolan and Walsh are cooperating fully with the league on an investigation that’s been taken out of the office of Stu Jackson, the NBA’s vice president of basketball operations and an old friend and Vancouver Grizzlies boss of Heard. Thomas hired Heard to the Knicks, and Walsh regretfully extended his contract. There are witnesses to corroborate Rush’s story of blowing out his knee as a Kansas sophomore in a Knicks workout, and witnesses to tell about the weeks that Wilson Chandler spent in private sessions with Heard prior to the Knicks drafting him in 2007.
The long arm of the NBA law is bearing down on Thomas, and the league’s most unemployable executive is digging himself deeper and deeper.
This might be the best thing the NBA can do for Knicks' fans. Take away any chance that Dolan will be foolish enough to give Thomas another opportunity to run the re-emerging Knicks back into the ground.