Work-related stress: Knicks' Thomas used to job speculation
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Isiah Thomas finished running practice Wednesday, then stopped for a briefing with a media relations official about the news surrounding his team.
Maybe that's when Thomas learned the Knicks might already be looking for his successor as president.
But Thomas seemed more amused than annoyed about reports the Knicks had spoken to Indiana Pacers CEO Donnie Walsh, because he'd already be long gone if previous speculation about his departure had been true.
"Honestly, I have not read them, so I can't even comment about them because I haven't read them," Thomas said. "However, it's probably safe to say that every two weeks you write this story. So there's a rumor every two weeks for the last two years, so we'll keep going here and keep working."
There have been reports this week that Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan has had informal talks with Walsh, though no job had been offered and Walsh may not have even been the top candidate.
Thomas said he was aware of the news because he had been briefed, and even asked a reporter for further information about what had been written. Asked if he was angry about what he heard, Thomas said: "Well, if it was the first time that it had happened.
"The first time it happened years ago, then I ... but again it's the same story every two weeks," he added. "It's just a different guy this time."
Indiana president Larry Bird did not elaborate on the reports about Walsh.
"While there's been speculation he's been talking to other teams, I have too much respect for him to talk about that," Bird said. "I hope he stays."
Bird also faces an uncertain future with the Pacers. The NBA Hall-of-Famer said Wednesday he won't know his plans until meeting with team owners Melvin and Herb Simon.
Also Wednesday, the Milwaukee Bucks released general manager Larry Harris, who was not offered a new contract after four seasons on the job.
Though Thomas signed a multiyear contract extension last March, questions about his job status surfaced in the first month of the season, when the Knicks got off to a horrible start soon after a jury found Thomas and MSG had sexually harassed a former team executive.
-- Isiah Thomas, on reports Knicks have spoken to Pacers CEO Donnie Walsh
Dolan hasn't spoken to the media, but there's been no indication he planned to make a change during the season. However, with the Knicks sitting at 19-48 in their seventh straight losing season, he may have to do something over the summer -- if not sooner.
"I don't have the first idea, just like you guys don't on what's going to happen in the offseason, but obviously losing around here's not going to be accepted," forward David Lee said. "We understand that, so from a player's, coach's, front office standpoint, everyone knows that we need to do better and who knows what can happen in the offseason."
The Knicks were not commenting on the reports, and Walsh has said he won't talk about his future until after the season. Thomas said he wouldn't talk about it publicly until either Dolan or Walsh had.
Nor will he talk about his job security, refusing to say if he thought he'd be back in both roles next season.
"To answer that question, then you get to write and have a whole talk show around it," Thomas said. "So I don't comment on my job status anymore."
Walsh has been with Indiana since 1984, and he hired Thomas as Pacers coach in 2000. But he's had a lesser role since 2003, when he made Bird the team president. Bird promptly fired Thomas.
Bird dismissed the notion that either he or Walsh would have to go.
"I know over the years I've had a good relationship with him, and he's taught me a lot," Bird said after the Pacers' shootaround in Indianapolis. "It's been real interesting from this side of it. He brought me in to coach here, so I have a lot of respect for him."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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