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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Blame Larry less

Ben, I think you need to replace Larry Brown with Knicks General Manager Isiah Thomas in the Notable Expensive Failures comparison from the other day (although of course that would screw up the equation of the names). Thomas's GM judgment has been historically bad, but the Steve Francis trade... well, here's a typical assessment of the move from Slate: "Compounding it all is the bizarre judgment of GM Isiah Thomas, whose acquisition of Francis almost seemed like a prankā€”the work of some stoned teenager with a PlayStation trying to construct the most ridiculous team possible just for laughs."

Here's Bill Simmons at his presumptuous, geeky best on Thomas's spectacularly bad tenure as GM. In this column, he imagines a summit for the worst general managers in recent NBA history, including Thomas and former Knicks GM Scott Layden, to give advice about how to run a team into the ground by making bad drafts, bad trades, and bad contracts. The column is about 2.5 times longer than it needs to be, but it's hilarious:

Thomas: And that's one of the reasons I wanted to work for the Knicks. When I screwed up in Toronto, nobody cared. When I ran the CBA into the ground, nobody cared. When I coached the Pacers and lost a series to Boston in which we had 10 of the best 12 players, nobody cared. In New York, they care. Right now, I'm working on a trade with Orlando where we give up Penny Hardaway's expiring deal and Trevor Ariza for Steve Francis. It's an illogical trade in every respect -- Francis' contract is terrible, there's no way he'll mesh with the other guys, he's never won anything, he gives us the same problems that Marbury gives us, it's a disaster right out of the gate. And that's what makes it so great. When we pull this trade off, New York fans might actually riot. I'm not kidding.

Thomas: Keep changing the roster -- you don't want any semblance of continuity. Once guys get used to playing with one another, they might start winning. Look at the teams that have done well over the last 25 years -- it's always been the teams that built around a nucleus. I even played for one in Detroit. That's why I like to keep mixing things up every six to seven weeks. Why chance it?

Here's a digest of responses to the Steve Francis trade from Simmons' readers. My favorite:
"Is it possible that what Isiah Thomas is doing to the Knicks right now is really some kind of sick revenge that goes back to his playing days with the Pistons? I don't know, maybe the Knicks wronged him so badly that he has been scheming for the day when he can land the GM job and destroy any chance of them ever being competitive again. This Francis deal definitely has me thinking that he is just trying to do as much damage as possible before the ownership gets wind of his plot and fires him. This really is the only theory that makes any sense anymore."

In the past few days, I've read this anecdote from the Washington Post about Francis and the heckler multiple times, and I still laugh:
Steve Francis, the New York Knicks' newly acquired guard, was preparing to throw the ball inbounds in the third quarter of the Washington Wizards' 110-89 victory last night when a heckler shouted, "Hey, Stevie, where you going next?"

Francis looked over his shoulder and shot back nonchalantly, "To the bank."


Blogger Ben on Sat Mar 04, 02:45:00 AM:
The problem is that "Larry" and "Brown" are names I can play with -- he shares them with Larry Summers and Tina Brown. "Isiah Thomas" is harder. I can find plenty of Thomases, but even if I can find an Isaiah or two, how am I going to find another misspelled "Isiah"?