Well, that didn't take long.
Isiah Thomas and the New York Knicks set off something of a firestorm last week, somehow managing to confuse both NBA and college hoops observers with the tenuous announcement that Thomas would serve as a front-office consultant for the pro franchise while also serving as the head coach at Florida International. It wasn't hard to spot the glaring conflict of interest at work there, especially given Thomas' stated Knicks duties, which included "player recruitment."
Both sides of the deal had reason to question the arrangement: Would Thomas use his ties to the Knicks to ensure pro chances for his star recruits? Would Thomas tout FIU players to the Knicks even if they weren't as good as other prospects? Why would either FIU or the Knicks allow this to happen? And just where is the NCAA in all of this? If the organization doesn't have a rule against the practice, what's to stop it from happening elsewhere?
Turns out, the NCAA didn't need to do anything. Thomas was oh-so-politely informed by NBA commissioner David Stern that the NBA doesn't allow league personnel to have any contact with players who aren't eligible for the NBA draft. From the AP:
"We have been informed by the Knicks that Isiah Thomas has rescinded his consulting agreement with the team. As a result, it is not necessary for the league to take any formal action on the proposed arrangement," Stern said. "However, we have reminded the Knicks of NBA rules that prohibit team personnel, including consultants, from having contact with players not eligible for the draft."
Yours truly assumed the NCAA would have to step in and classify NBA consultants and front-office personnel as akin to agents, thus closing a loophole that allowed Thomas' creative job situation in the first place. Alas, the NBA did its college counterpart one better. Easy enough.
So, um, thanks, NBA! Now, if we could just have a few more minutes of your time, we were hoping to talk to you about the one-and-done -- what's that? Oh. Yeah. I can hold.