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pensiveisiah.jpgWatching the Sixers take out the Knicks 101-90 at the Wach tonight brought a couple of things to mind. First, the Knicks are a bad team. It's as simple as that. They're a poorly constructed team, they're a poorly coached team, they're a poorly conditioned team, and they're a poorly motivated team. The funny thing about all of these problems is that all of the blame can be put on one man, Isiah Thomas. Second, if Billy King deserved to be fired, Isiah deserves to be stoned in the town square, or maybe tarred and feathered.

I realize there's an unfair media bias against Isiah, or at least plenty of Knicks fans will claim that. But facts are facts. Just about every guy on the team looks out of shape, the coach's fault. They have two low-post scorers, and no true point guard to get them the ball, the GM's fault. This year, their payroll is $89M (the 2nd highest in the league, trailing only Dallas), next year their payroll will be over $90M, the GM's fault. Tonight, Zach Randolph quit playing after he missed a couple of shots, the coach's fault, and not a rarity for Knicks players.

Knicks fans will tell you they merely want to see improvement from their team, year over year. Really? So Isiah is rebuilding this team by trading for bad contracts and signing guys like Jerome James and Jared Jeffries. This team won't be a player in free agency until after the 2009-2010 season, and that's only if Isiah doesn't trade any more affordable contracts and picks for bad contracts between now and then.

Why am I spending so much time talking about the Knicks tonight? Simple, because the Sixers fired their GM this week. Billy King traded away the team's superstar last season for draft picks. Then he bought out his other "superstar," Chris Webber. He set the team up to be about $14M under the cap after this season and WAY under the cap the following season. He didn't make any desperate moves to save his job, he set this team on the path to turn things around. The Sixers started the season 5-12, and he was fired.

I'm not saying King didn't deserve to be fired, but the Sixers accomplished pretty much what everyone thought they would this year. They took a couple of shots on the nose, like a rebuilding team will from time to time, but they've played competitive basketball night in and night out. In fact, I'd say their play was indicative of a team rebuilding the right way. Their coach has them motivated, they've got YOUNG, affordable players and a few chips they could use to land more draft picks before the trading deadline this season. King was probably let go because the ownership thought he wasn't the right guy to take them from here to where they need to be, but he's put them right where he should have, on the way up. Thomas inherited a flawed team and when the Knicks finally come to their senses he will leave the next poor soul exactly that, a flawed team. A flawed team with no salary cap space, and several unmovable contracts. He had Howard Eisley, Shandon Anderson and Allan Houston when he got there, he'll leave Jerome James, Jared Jeffries and Stephon Marbury for the next guy. Tell me, how has he helped this franchise? More importantly, how does he still have a job?

A lot of people will tell you he's a great talent evaluator, and he's done a great job with his drafts. OK, here are the players on the roster who he's drafted. Nate Robinson, a diminutive gunner who can't find minutes on this team even when the starting point guard goes AWOL. Renaldo Balkman, a poor-man's Jerome Williams. David Lee, a rebounding machine whose shoddy defense and complete lack of an offensive game make him nothing more than a 6th man on a bad team. Mardy Collins, a slow point guard who can't shoot. Wilson Chandler, the #23 pick this season, has played a total of 21 minutes through 18 games. That's an expert talent evaluator? The counter argument you'll hear again and again is that Isiah got value for his picks. Really? The Sixers drafted Lou Williams in the second round with pick #45 three years ago. He'll be their starting point guard within a year. They got Kyle Korver in a draft-night deal for cash after the Nets took him in the second round. Both of those players are better than anyone Isiah has drafted since he came to the Knicks, both were drafted at lower positions than Lee (30th overall pick), Balkman (20th overall pick), Robinson (21st overall pick in the same draft that Lou Williams went #45) and Collins (29th overall pick).

Is there an unfair anti-Isiah bias among the New York writers? I don't know, it's hard to tell if the bias is unfair, or if it's just a bunch of writers who realize that Isiah has done a terrible job and should've been fired long ago.

The Sixers and Knicks are both probably asleep in New York as I write this, waiting for the tail end of their home-and-home, back-to-back. Two teams heading in opposite directions, but the team on the way up just fired their GM, while the team dropping like a rock (or, to be more accurate, just treading water at the bottom of the abyss) keeps paying the architect of their disaster.

Write it down, the Sixers will get their first two-game winning streak of the season Saturday night, even if they play down to the Knicks level.

Player of The Game: Samuel Dalembert, more points than Eddy Curry and Zach Randolph combined.
Team Record: 6-13

Some quick notes on tonight's game:
  • Mo took about 12 minutes away from Willie Green tonight, and gave them right to Thad Young. Great to see. Young looked more aggressive on offense, and saw key minutes in a game that was yet to be decided in the fourth quarter.
  • Shavlik Randolph saw his first action of the season and didn't outwardly display any homophobia.
  • Jamal Crawford reminds me a lot of Willie Green.
  • Nate Robinson, Renaldo Balkman, Malik Rose and Fred Jones would not be in the regular rotation if they were on the Sixers. They combined to play 61 minutes for the Knicks tonight.
  • Andre Iguodala and Andre Miller played light minutes tonight, for them. This bodes well for tonight.
by Brian on Dec 8 2007
Tags: Basketball | Isiah Thomas | Samuel Dalembert | Sixers |