Isiah Thomas, who in 2008 was fired as coach and president of the New York Knicks, has been re-hired as a consultant to the National Basketball Association team.
Thomas, 49, will “assist the team’s senior management in various capacities, including player recruitment,” the team said today in a news release. Thomas will remain coach of Florida International University, where he has worked since April 2009.
“Isiah Thomas brings unique experience as a Hall of Fame player, coach, executive and owner, and we believe having him as part of our organization will be extremely beneficial to the team’s success,” team owner James Dolan and President Donnie Walsh said in a joint statement.
The Knicks failed to produce a winning season in the four years Thomas was in control of the team, including the final two in which he was also its coach. He was relieved of his duties as team president in April 2008 and fired as coach later that month after the team tied a franchise record for defeats in a season.
He was replaced by Walsh as president and Mike D’Antoni as head coach. The Knicks went 32-50 the following season and 29-53 in 2009-2010 as they shed salary-cap space to make an attempt to sign free-agent LeBron James and other top players this summer.
Thomas was asked to be part of the group that tried to convince James to join the Knicks. James instead chose the Miami Heat, though free-agent All-Star Amar’e Stoudemire did opt to move from the Phoenix Suns to New York. Walsh thanked Thomas at Stoudemire’s introductory news conference, drawing speculation Thomas might return to the team.
Thomas’s ‘Skill Set’
“I was honored to have been asked to help during the recent free-agent recruiting process, and believe that this new role takes full advantage of my skill set as an evaluator of basketball talent,” Thomas said in a statement released by the Knicks.
Thomas’s tenure was marked by a sexual harassment suit against him by a team executive and a high-profile feud with his top player, former All-Star point guard Stephon Marbury.
Thomas retired as an NBA player in 1994 after 13 seasons with the Detroit Pistons. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2000.