Thomas says he's only concerned about winning games
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Isiah Thomas conceded the New York Knicks had a bad week -- on the court.
But he dismissed the other turmoil surrounding his team, including the idea that he could follow Stephon Marbury as the next person around the Knicks to lose his job.
Sheridan: Chair Getting Hotter
Isiah Thomas' handling of the Stephon Marbury situation, combined with six straight losses, has put the Knicks' team president and coach in possible imminent danger of losing his job, Chris Sheridan writes. Story
He instead pointed out Monday that the Knicks have been close in many of their losses, and his only worry is finding ways to get them over the hump.
"That's all we're really concerned about and that's all our team is focused on, how we get better as a basketball team," Thomas said. "All the other stuff you want to talk about, that's up to you guys. But in terms of what we do out on the basketball floor, those are the things that we can control, and out on the basketball floor we had chances to win basketball games."
However, Thomas reportedly was so unhappy with his team's work Monday that he kicked the entire team out of practice. A source close to the team told The New York Daily News that the team later returned once Thomas made his point.
"It is a three-ring circus," the source told the Daily News. "It's getting worse."
Marbury was removed as the starting point guard last week, left the team and was fined for skipping a game at Phoenix. He didn't stick around long enough to be interviewed after practice, and Thomas responded simply, "We'll see," when asked if Marbury would start Tuesday against Golden State.
New York went 0-4 on its trip out west and has dropped six straight overall, falling to last in the Atlantic Division at 2-7. Still, Thomas twice said he wasn't worried about losing his jobs as coach and president of the Knicks, even though he's done almost nothing but lose in recent weeks.
First, there was the defeat in the sexual harassment trial against himself and Madison Square Garden, followed by the Knicks' poor start. But he said New York is only a few plays away from having a winning record.
Thomas said he spoke to MSG chairman James Dolan on Saturday, but offered no details of their conversation other than Dolan "said hello." There was speculation that Thomas had lost the team after Yahoo! Sports reported the players took a vote not to play Marbury when he returned from his absence, but Thomas gave him heavy minutes that night anyway in a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.
However, guard Jamal Crawford said Thomas still had strong support in the locker room.
"People are going to write what they want and say what they want, but we just have to go out and continue to do the job," Crawford said.
That won't be easy until the Marbury situation is repaired, even as Thomas tries to move past it.
Asked what he would have done differently last week, Thomas answered only in terms of game strategy, even though Marbury's demotion and departure seemed poorly handled.
Marbury told two reporters he had permission to leave the team, but his absence couldn't have been excused since the Knicks docked his pay. A New York native who is the last starter announced and usually gets loud ovations, Marbury may not get his usual crowd support Tuesday.
But Thomas is only concerned what happens once Marbury is in the game.
"What we need and what we want from him is great leadership and great defense, and those are two things that he is capable of delivering," Thomas said. "And when those things aren't delivered, he'll hear from me. From that point guard position that's what we need and that's what we demand. Sometimes it may not sit well, but those are the things that we need and if those things are delivered, I'm sure we'll have a good season."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.