Garden chairman James Dolan recently told confidants that he knows a coaching change must be made and that he is preparing to do just that, according to a source close to Dolan. No timetable was given, but the source indicated that Dolan is leaning toward making a change before the end of the season.
Dolan’s change of heart comes 10 months after he rewarded Thomas with a contract extension believed to be worth $24 million. Also, two months ago a Garden official leaked a story to three newspapers that Thomas still had the support of ownership.
It is not clear whether Dolan would allow Thomas to continue in his role as the team’s highest-ranking decision-maker once he is removed from the bench. Such a scenario would seem unlikely, but Thomas’ survival skills should never be underestimated
It also is not known who will be hired to replace Thomas. In all likelihood, assistant coach Herb Williams will be hired on an interim basis and the team will begin a coaching search.
There is no shortage of candidates either for Thomas’ front office job or his coaching job. Jerry West and Jerry Colangelo would be considered the top two candidates to become team president. Coincidentally, Colangelo’s son, Bryan, who is the GM of the Toronto Raptors, spoke briefly to Garden president Steve Mills before Friday night’s game.
Last night, Thomas sounded like a coach who knows that his time is running short. Thomas compared himself to the construction worker who lays the foundation to a house for someone else to live in.
“When you move into your house, the guy who poured the concrete never really gets a chance to live in that beautiful house that he built,” Thomas said. “Our job right now is to make sure that we lay the concrete and that we lay it correctly.”
If nothing else, you’ve got to admire Zeke’s chutzpah. Just a week after he suggested with a straight face the Knicks might someday win a championship under his watch, he’s now preparing to take the credit for someone else’s rebuilding job.