It looks like Isiah Thomas is determined to have the greatest collection of overpaid underachieving players in the history of sports – and as a Bulls fan, this is the greatest situation ever. Thomas has now brought Steve Francis on board to the New York Knicks, meaning the wacky GM has added yet another bloated contract to the ridiculously high salary team. The Knicks are paying out $130 million in salaries this season, which is over $30 million more than the next highest team payroll in the NBA in the Dallas Mavericks. The difference is that the Knicks are 23 games under .500 while the Mavericks have the best record in the Western Conference. With the way that the NBA salary cap is structured, the Knicks are stuck with all of these underachievers and cannot take advantage of their superior financial resources to sign anyone from the bumper crop of free agents coming onto the market over the next couple of years
Statistically, it might seem like Isiah made a good deal by sending Penny Hardaway and Trevor Ariza to the Magic in exchange for Francis. However, Francis has a long history of being a selfish player that doesn't get along with his teammates and coaches. It's okay to bring in a talented but underachieving problem child to a team that has strong leaders to smack him into line. In the Knicks' case, though, they already have underachieving, lackadaisical, and overpaid players in Stephon Marbury, Jamal Crawford, Eddy Curry, Quentin Richardson – actually, it's really everyone on the Knicks roster. Larry Brown is a stellar coach, but I can't see even him turning around this nightmare of a ballclub.
As Sam Smith pointed out a couple of weeks ago, the biggest beneficiary of Isiah's ineptitude could possibly be the Bulls. From the Eddy Curry trade, the Bulls get the Knicks' first-round draft pick for this year and then have the right to swap first-round picks with them in 2007. As the Knicks continue to tank, they could very well end up with the #1 pick in the NBA Draft for two seasons in a row – and the Bulls would get them both! That means we could end up with Adam Morrison after this season and then, even more exciting, the next great center in Greg Oden after that. If the Bulls have those two guys on the court with Kirk Hinrich and Luol Deng with Ben Gordon and Tyson Chandler rotating in, we could have a new NBA dynasty in Chicago. Isiah Thomas is finally giving something back to his hometown after being our nemesis with the Pistons!