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Isiah's Choice

Okay, so maybe its not on par with deciding which one of your children will go with the Nazis, but Isiah Thomas has one heckuva decision to make for the upcoming season.

The Knicks currently have 17 players on their roster. The league maximum is fifteen. Further muddying the waters is the fact that Demetris Nichols, the teams 2nd round pick (via trade) played fantastically in the summer with a performance that dared Isiah not to make him one of the fifteen. The Knicks were supposedly trying to make room for Nichols but had to hoping on some level he would bomb out and make their decision easier. Alas...

The reaction from Knickland has been resounding, where he's being considered the
steal of the draft and Mr. Potential. Alan Hahn at sums up the value in keeping Nichols (and fellow rookie Wilson Chandler) on the roster:

I know it's been suggested that Isiah might try to tuck one or both of these rookies in Europe or on a U.S.-based minor league (ABA, CBA) for a season, but let's be honest, both have proven they can play. Why would you send them away when you could have them spend a year learning your system, learning about life in the NBA and getting their feet wet in real NBA action? Sure, most of the first half they might spend as towel wavers in full warmups, or perhaps even on the inactive list. But it's the experience that matters early on -- the bright lights, the crowds and the travel -- before the basketball part kicks in. Who knows, by April, D-Knick (nice) could be a Trent Tucker-type sent in for spot-up duty. Or Chandler could be part of an athletic second unit that turns the Knicks power game attack suddenly into a transition attack. Bottom line, the performance of both rookies in this summer league has forced Isiah to consider his options. And, right now, the best option is to have them on the roster.

With Zach Randolph, Renaldo Balkman, Eddy Curry, Jared Jeffries, David Lee, Malik Rose and Quentin Richardson ahead of Nichols on the depth chart at the moment, even making the team might not amount to much this season. But a season on the bench with the Knicks learning what being an NBA player is all about would be far more valuable than a season in the NBDL or in Europe.

It can be a dicey proposition to put your fate into the hands of Isiah Thomas. He may cut you, he may sign you to a max contract for nine years, he may trade you for Chris Webber and a turkey club sandwich. There's no way of knowing. Syracuse fans will be watching closely to see what he decides, especially now that Demetris has put himself on everyone's radar.