Here is some of Insider's article about the Knicks and some deals Thomas might be pursuing:
Last week, upon word that Isiah Thomas had taken over as president of the Knicks, Insider's advice was simple -- burn the entire team down.
Apparently, we weren't the only ones telling Thomas the obvious. Thomas told reporters this weekend that he talked to four NBA people whom he respects, and all gave him the same advice. "They are all in agreement that the best way to do it is to blow it up," Thomas told the N.Y. Times. "Everyone I've talked to about this situation has given me the advice to start all over and get under the salary cap."
Why such a dour prediction? Because the Knicks aren't close to making the Finals with the group they have. The guys who aren't contributing anything but take up an enormous amount of cap space -- Shandon Anderson, Howard Eisley and Clarence Weatherspoon -- can't be moved. Other players, like Allan Houston and Keith Van Horn, are contributing, but they, too, take up a lot of cap space. Combined, Houston and Van Horn make a little over $29 million this year.
Thomas' only tradeable pieces at the moment are good players with short-term contracts. If he could move guys like Antonio McDyess, Kurt Thomas or Charlie Ward, he might be able to acquire young players and draft picks in return. Thomas then could start rebuilding with a couple of veterans (Houston, Van Horn) and several promising young players (Frank Williams, Michael Sweetney and Maciej Lampe) already in place.
Despite the advice, Thomas claims he won't go in that direction. At least not yet, anyway. "I'm stubborn," Thomas said. "I can't think of an organization that has been saddled with this kind of debt structure that hasn't blown it up and started it all over. I want that to be my last resort, not necessarily my first result."
Thomas already has made a few moves that appear to have paid some dividends. He convinced coach Don Chaney to let Williams take over the point guard duties. Since that decision, the Knicks are 3-0, and Williams is averaging 16.7 ppg and 5 apg on 63 percent shooting from the field.
He cut second-round pick Slavko Vranes, claiming the team doesn't have the patience to develop him. He is working on buying out Weatherspoon's contract; he activated Sweetney (to see what he has); he ripped second-round pick Lampe's work ethic (to light a fire under him, according to Lampe's agent); and he made a hard push to sign troubled forward Eddie Griffin.
Thomas isn't done.
Several NBA GMs told Insider on Monday that Thomas' primary trade bait will be McDyess.
McDyess makes a lot of money ($13.5 million), but he's in the last year of his contract, making him very attractive to a team trying to get further under the luxury tax. Thomas is looking for a younger, long, athletic center or forward in return (that pretty much counts out Zydrunas Ilgauskas for those of you still in Scott Layden mode).
The Hawks' Theo Ratliff, the Blazers' Rasheed Wallace, the Mavericks' Antawn Jamison and the Bucks' Tim Thomas are Thomas' most likely targets.
To get Wallace, Thomas would have to throw Kurt Thomas or Ward into the deal to make the salaries work. The Blazers are desperate to move Wallace but won't take back anything that hurts their cap long term. Would James Dolan, who claims he wanted to clean up the Knicks, really take on Wallace?
Jamison is an interesting option. He's locked into a long-term deal and may duplicate what Van Horn does on the court, but Thomas is a fan. The Mavs would insist on getting the draft rights to young point guard Milos Vujanic as part of any deal for Jamison. Given that Thomas hasn't shown any real fondness for international players, will that be a big loss?
Tim Thomas is the most questionable of the group. He's never quite fit into a position with the Bucks, though he is putting up the best numbers of his career this season. The problem for the Knicks is that he's locked in for two more seasons at numbers he just doesn't merit. Moving Thomas for McDyess would put the Bucks well under the cap for next season.
Isiah also is willing to trade Ward now that Williams looks ready to take over, though he's just as willing to cut him by Jan. 15 and get $4 million in cap relief for the team.
Big trades like these don't happen overnight, and most GMs think nothing will happen until next week at the earliest. Thomas is still trying to get a feel for how his players are valued around the league. He's still smarting over the Nets landing Griffin and vows that his most important task is changing the image of the franchise.
"We've got to get our franchise back to the point where players want to come play for the New York Knicks and don't give it a second thought," Thomas told the Times. "There was a time when we would have gotten the phone call, 'Can we come play for you,' as opposed to us having to search and find and beat (the bushes). We've got to get ourselves back to the point as a franchise where people want to come here and play and see this and view this as a very good situation, and that's what we're working on."
In the meantime, Isiah Thomas is looking under rocks for forgotten players who could help his team. The word out of New York is that Isiah is on the verge of signing the only free agent even more messed up than Eddie Griffin -- Leon Smith -- to a 10-day contract.
One popular theory floating around the league has Thomas doing everything in his power to get his hands on some of his former Pacers -- mainly Jermaine O'Neal, Ron Artest and Jamaal Tinsley. O'Neal is untouchable. Artest was believed to be as well, but his questionable behavior is raising eyebrows again, and there's talk Rick Carlisle might be happier with Artest playing somewhere else.
The problem Thomas faces, if he wants Artest and Tinsley, is coming up with a trade package the Pacers would bite on. Artest and Tinsley are probably available, but they'd come at a high price. Putting together a package of Charlie Ward or Kurt Thomas and Frank Williams won't be enough to get either one.