According to ESPN, the Isiah Thomas is the reason the Knicks did not draw a blank in free agency despite D'Antoni's relationships with his former players.
"Nothing was going our way," the person said. "We were afraid we were going to get shut out. We didn't have a person who could relate to these young guys and we were panicking. Isiah stepped in and did that for us."
While Stoudemire was the only big-name player the club signed, a person close to Johnson said Thomas' work on New York's behalf had the Atlanta Hawks' All-Star seriously considering joining the Knicks.
Before Thomas began recruiting Johnson a few days before free agency began on July 1, the Knicks "weren't even on our radar," according to the person close to Johnson. But the Knicks ended up being the first team to meet with Johnson after the Hawks. After both clubs offered Johnson maximum-salary contracts at their first meeting, Johnson was thinking of joining the Knicks.
"It was 50-50 between New York and Atlanta at that point," the person close to Johnson said. "Joe was going to have to leave that $30 million on the table to go to New York, but he was still considering it. If Isiah had been in pocket with the Knicks, meaning if he had still been working for their organization, there's a strong possibility that Joe would have ended up there."
While Thomas has a poor reputation in New York because of the team's struggles -- as well as his primary role in an embarrassing sexual harassment case -- during his tenure with the Knicks, the Hall of Famer is widely respected by players and those in their inner circles throughout the league.
Over the past two weeks, he used his stature to promote the Knicks. Though Johnson had a good relationship with Mike D'Antoni, he wasn't even going to give the Knicks a meeting before Thomas began speaking about the organization, according to the person close to Johnson.
"Isiah spoke very positively about New York," the source said. "He was just telling us how loyal the Knicks were, how good of an organization it was and how the owner was a good guy. For him to say that about an organization that had fired him really put the Knicks in a positive light in Joe's mind."
Donnie Walsh has stated that Isiah Thomas will be considered for the position of General Manager should he be hiring. I can hear the collective groan of the masses of people who want to blame Isiah for the decline of the Knicks including the past two dismal years which until now has been ignored for the failure that it was. Now, the Stoudemire acquisition will begin to look a little less successful because Isiah had a hand in it. This is one reason I love New York. Never a dull moment. This is also why I love my owner, who needs to do a much better job running an organization, he doesn't give a rats ass what you think or what all those media-idiots think. I can't stop laughing. This is the part of the script that Steady has dared to signal for two plus years. Hilarious. Is Isiah that competitive that he would dare take a job which is almost a guaranteed loser with that Miami line-up staring the future Larry O'Brien Trophy ceremonies in the face. ROFLMAO. Welcome to all the newbies and the old heads. Let's Rock This Like It's 2011.