Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse for a locked out NBA workforce, the New York Post’s Peter Vecsey claims Isiah Thomas — presumably still under the employ of Florida International University — “has been creepin’ round Billy Hunter’s back door to get his job.”
Should an opening occur any time soon, the union’s search committee might want to check out how successful Thomas was the last time he and Stern haggled.
In the spring of 2000, Thomas was the Hawks’ first choice to become head coach. But before he could gain approval from the commissioner, he was told to detach himself as majority owner of the Continental Basketball League (a conflict of interest was cited). Despite already having built a home in Atlanta, Thomas vehemently refused. That prompted the Hawks to retract their offer. Ownership did not want a long, ugly court fight with the league.
Shortly thereafter, Pacers president Donnie Walsh proposed to Thomas, but was barred by Stern from signing him. Walsh convinced owners Mel and Herb Simon to be patient so Thomas would have time to sell the CBA. Looking to latch on to a minor league, Stern bid $9M, figuring he might as well start his own (Developmental League) for anything above that figure.
Thomas was outraged. He felt Stern purposely low-balled him because he knew how badly he wanted to coach. Kinda the way Hunter must feel knowing how badly his players want to play.
So, Thomas showed Stern! He let the CBA go out of business and got nothing.