The New York Knicks extended the contract of head coach Isiah Thomas on Monday. This comes nine months after the Knicks warned him that the team needed to show “evident progress” if he was to keep his job.
Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan had said he would wait until after the season to make a decision on Thomas, but with the Knicks in the hunt for a playoff spot he decided to go ahead and announce the return of Isiah Thomas as coach and team president.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Thomas was forced to coach the team by Dolan after firing Larry Brown after one season. That was when Dolan informed Thomas that he would either show progress with the team or be fired as coach and president.
“Isiah Thomas’ stewardship of the Knicks, both as president and head coach, has clearly resulted in the team’s ‘significant improvement’ and I am very pleased to provide him with this well deserved extension,” Dolan said in a statement released by the team. “The Knicks have grown tremendously, both in terms of team performance and player development, and much of the credit goes to Isiah and his staff.”
The Knicks moved into eighth place in the Eastern Conference over the weekend, which means they would make the playoffs if they started today. Despite this, the Knicks currently having a losing 29-34 record with 19 games left in the regular season. The Knicks have failed to reach the playoffs since 2004.
Dolan’s decision to extend the contract of Isiah Thomas came as no surprise. The last time Dolan met with reporters in December, he indicated his enthusiasm regarding Thomas.
Dolan also indicated that he was reluctant to overhaul the front office and coaching staff considering Thomas is the Knicks’ fifth head coach since the end of 2001 after the resignation of Jeff Van Gundy.
“You also have to take into account what the alternative is,” Dolan said. “Because if what you’re saying is that we haven’t made enough progress and that’s really true, then what you’re saying is that we have to restart again. That would essentially mean blowing up this organization in terms of who’s working here, bringing in a new philosophy of play with a new coach. That’s pretty drastic.”
“If we end up this season where we are now, in terms of the development, I think we would all be disappointed.”
Dolan has also praised Isiah Thomas for his ability to get the Knicks to play as a team and for the improvement of the Knicks young players such as forward David Lee and the development of center Eddy Curry.