UPDATE (5:15p ET): Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com reports that the Clippers are denying they are considering Isiah Thomas for a position with the club.
Shelburne adds: “This feels like story came from Isiah… Can’t see why the Clippers would want to pay $10 mill worth of coach next year.”
ORIGINAL POST: Jeff Goodman of FoxSports.com reports Friday:
NBA Hall of Famer and current men’s basketball coach at Florida International University Isiah Thomas has emerged as one of the candidates to run the Los Angeles Clippers.
According to a source close to the situation, the Clippers have reached out to Thomas — who coached the Indiana Pacers and also the New York Knicks — to take over coaching, general manager and president duties.
He would replace Mike Dunleavy, who was relieved of his coaching duties earlier this week but remains the general manager.
Goodman’s report is all the more delightful when you consider that 11 months ago, Dunleavy said on the record that he turned down Thomas’ offer to work for the Clippers for free - in any capacity!
Thomas is doing what he can to try to get back into the game, and with his daughter set to attend Loyola Marymount, he offered to work for the Clippers without getting paid because he is still receiving money from the Knicks, Dunleavy said.
“Isiah came to us,” Dunleavy said in a telephone interview Thursday morning. “I wasn’t going to be a jerk and say, ‘I can’t talk to you.’ But there’s no position in the organization for him.”
While Dunleavy may sound like he’s somewhat sympathetic to Thomas, to reveal that Thomas was willing to work for free was clearly a low blow.
Then there’s January, 2008, when Dunleavy slammed Thomas for running the Knicks into the ground.
Clipper coach Mike Dunleavy, in a wide-ranging rant in which he defended the job he’s done against a win-or-else ultimatum from owner Donald Sterling, took a shot at the Knicks’ deplorable condition in the Isiah Thomas reign.
Dunleavy said, “I would only make deals to help our future - anything else is suicide. Anything else and you become the New York Knicks. Now if you want to do that and take on big contracts and long-term deals to potentially hit a home run or get some kind of turnaround, that’s not the direction I would go as a businessman or if I owned the team.
I listened to an interview with Dunleavy yesterday on ESPN Radio in Los Angeles, and though he didn’t say it, Dunleavy clearly was taken off the bench against his will.
As if that isn’t a big enough insult to endure, now you have the Thomas report from Goodman, which is the ultimate slap in the face to Dunleavy.
It isn’t known if Dunleavy made the call to keep his former assistant Kim Hughes as interim coach of the team for the rest of the season. Perhaps Dunleavy resisting hiring another legitimate coach who might not play his plodding system is what’s fueling the Thomas rumor.
From Dunleavy’s track record of hammering Thomas in print, I can only imagine what he’ll say about the current FIU coach if Thomas doesn’t take his job.