The consternation that arises whenever Isiah Thomas' name comes up in a conversation with Garden executives is often followed with fervored assurance that -- despite his efforts to promote himself through media "friends" -- Thomas will not be back to run the Knicks in any capacity. No, that ship sailed last summer and, to the relief of many at 2 Penn Plaza, finally struck the iceberg somewhere during the winter.
There are plenty of people who still personally like Isiah and want to see him back in the NBA (just not in New York). And the only market in the league that might welcome Thomas is not his last stop, but his first one; the place where he had the most success. Yes, as John Kuester's disasterous tenure ends and new ownership takes hold in Detroit, the Pistons may put serious thought into hiring Isiah to be their head coach.
According to the Detroit News, Thomas is considered a peripheral candidate, with former Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Woodson listed as the favorite. But Thomas and Pistons president Joe Dumars -- his backcourt made on those championship teams -- have maintained a good relationship. And both are in desperate need for the same thing another Detroit legend, Eminem, referenced in his own career comeback: Recovery.
How many Garden executives would line up to provide Dumars with sterling references for Isiah? How many anonymous fax submissions of Isiah's resume from area code 212 have come through the machine at Palace Sports & Entertainment since Kuester was fired?
There are people who still genuinely like Isiah, but they cringe every time someone sticks a microphone in his face and mentions the Knicks. He can't help himself from helping himself. I'm told by people in the know that it has been made clear to Isiah that, while he is considered a friend and his basketball knowledge is always respected, his impact is often overstated (by himself, his "friends" and those who gleefully perpetuate the madness). He will not run the franchise again. But until he has a job in the NBA, he just can't cut the cord.
Watch how quickly he does, however, if he can reconnect with the Pistons. Hey Carmelo, you still don't want go to the hole. It still wouldn't be a good idea. Just letting you know.
We'll leave it up to the Detroit media to provide the reasonable argument and point out that Thomas' issues in New York were more about running the franchise than being a coach. In the end, Thomas the coach realized just how bad of a job the team president had done in building the team.
And when you consider the list of candidates the long-lost Pistons are considering -- Woodson, Lawrence Frank, Mark Jackson, Kelvin Sampson and Bill Laimbeer -- only Laimbeer, another former Bad Boy, would provide a little bit of desperately needed buzz for a franchise that has gone dormant since the Chauncey Billups Era. Isiah has more experience, his name on the floor and his number hanging from the rafters at the Palace. And, while he is said to have made peace before Bill Davidson's passing, the change in ownership officially opens the door for the prodigal son to return.
With a few million people here in New York who would gladly carry him home.