The New York Knicks fired head coach Larry Brown on Thursday and replaced him with president and general manager Isiah Thomas.
“Larry has had a long and storied career. We hired him last summer with the expectation that he would be with the Knicks for a long time. Sometimes decisions work and sometimes they don’t,” MSG chairman James L. Dolan said. “After careful consideration, despite the best intentions from everyone involved, this current structure did not work for us last season and I did not think it was going to improve next season.”
The Knicks finished 23-59 in Brown’s first and only season as head coach and rumors of his imminent exit have abounded for months.
“No one in our organization is happy with last season and we all accept responsibility for our performance,” Thomas said. “This has been a difficult time for the entire organization and our fans. Today begins the 2006-07 season for the Knicks, and I strongly believe we are on the right track to take major steps in our rebuilding process to achieve our goal of being one of the premier teams in the NBA.”
According to The New York Daily News, Brown was fired during a contentious early morning meeting with Dolan after just 79 games. Brown missed three games due to illness.
The Knicks reportedly have told Brown they are not going to pay him the full $40 million he is owed over the final four seasons of his contract.
Sources apparently told the Daily News the Knicks are going to allow commissioner David Stern arbitrate the compensation owed to the Hall of Fame coach.
Last month, Brown called himself a “dead man walking” because of his uncertain job status.
Thomas joined the Knicks as president and general manager in December 2003. He was coach of the Indiana Pacers for three seasons through 2002-03, compiling a 131-115 record.
But Thomas has come under heavy criticism for the team’s sorry record, and its ill-conceived roster.
Brown, on the other hand, angered his bosses by essentially endorsing trades for Jalen Rose and Steve Francis only to sour on both players soon after they arrived in the Big Apple.