Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Isiah Thomas' Tab

We do a lot of fantasy baseball on here, some real baseball, and a little horse racing for kicks. Let's switch gears for a second and focus on everyone's favorite New York executive: Isiah Thomas.

Articles have been written left and right asking the obvious question of what the hell it takes for Isiah to get fired. Clearly, being found to have sexually harassed a subordinate minority female employee is not enough. Clearly, sucking at your job is also not enough. But is the real reason that the Zeke continues to abide simply because the folks at the Garden to can't do math?

We here at the GRBG thought it might be useful to put aside the ethical and sporting arguments against Isiah, and focus instead on the cold, hard cash at stake. Let's figure out exactly how much money Isiah has cost the Knicks since his reign began in 2003. We can divide the expenses into a few categories:

Wasted Players' and Coaches' Salaries

Oh how many crappy ideas were brought and floated to our Knickerbockers. Let us count the ways (player salary info from Hoops Hype):

  1. Larry Brown: $8M in salary, plus another $18.5M to buy out the remainder of his contract. For those keeping score at home, that comes out to $1.15M per win over the course of Brown's tenure as coach.

  2. Jerome James: 5/$29M

  3. Jared Jeffries: 5/$30M

  4. Frederic Weis: Wait, we can't blame that one on Isiah, can we? Fuck. $0.

  5. Jalen Rose: 2/$31.9M, though some of that was bought out when he was waived. As it's pretty obvious that we're piling on Isiah here, we'll use the full number, since Rose could have sat around and collected about $30M of that total if he'd wanted to.

  6. Steve Francis: I suppose this "got" them Zach Randolph, but only in the sense that it was a trade enabler, since Portland waived him before he collected his baggage from the airplane. Still a waste at 1/$13.8M on the Knicks' books.

  7. Stephon Marbury: Approximately 3/$59M

Total: $158.3M

Luxury Tax: This is tough to calculate, given that Isiah did inherit some bad contracts, so it's tough to know exactly how much of the overrun is his fault. That said, he's been GM for a few years now, and the Knicks are on the hook for $44M in tax payments for the upcoming season. So we feel pretty comfortable putting that 44 large on Zeke's tab at this point. That brings the salary + tax total up to $202.3M.

Sexual Harassment Suit

Jury Verdict: $11.6 million. There's a chance that'll get reduced by the 2nd Circuit or that they'll just settle out. There's also a chance they're going to waste money on an appeal that's going nowhere. Which brings us to...

Legal Fees. Well, the Garden hired a Park Avenue firm with a very nice reputation, who had to attend and conduct about a dozen depositions and a 3-week trial. Assuming the name partner handled much of the matter (i.e., at a high billing rate), along with the usual cadre of a junior partner, senior associate, and random junior lackies, we're looking at a fair approximation of $800,000 in legal fees here. And if they're serious about appealing, that's another $200k they're probably going to outlay.

Total: $12.6 million

Total Cost to Knicks: $214.9M

Income Generated by Isiah: $0

Seriously, do you think anyone has spent another nickel on the Knicks because this guy's in charge? If anything, he's cost them season ticket subscriptions and hot dog sales. Still, we're not stupid enough to try to speculate on that.

We also realize the Garden and Cablevision have a reservoir of funds that's matched by Blackstone, Coolmore Farms, and Saudi Arabia. But for god's sake, if you're a person with an iota of common sense, wouldn't you just fire someone who cost your company a cool $215M? Has Cablevision turned into GM overnight?

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