New Knicks president Steve Mills has said unequivocally that Isiah Thomas, his former colleague, will not be rejoining the organization.
"No, Isiah will not be coming back to the Knicks," Mills told ESPN NY Radio (98.7 FM) in an interview on Monday. "I've known Isiah for a long time. He has a lot of good things going on in his life. He just finished getting his masters at Berkeley. He's on NBA TV. He's doing a lot of community work through his foundation with his mother."
Mills worked for the Madison Square Garden Company executive from 1999 to 2009 and was hired in September to replace Glen Grunwald, who was bumped from his GM position to a consultant's role. Mills advocated for Thomas' hiring as Knicks president in 2003. Thomas would remain with the organization until his dismissal in 2008, and his tenure included an ugly sexual harassment lawsuit, a number of questionable trades and signings, and zero playoff appearances.
Rumors briefly linked Thomas to the Knicks in 2012, when former MSG Sports president Scott O'Neil abruptly resigned his position. The New York Post reported at the time that MSG chairman James Dolan and Thomas, who was fired earlier that year as coach of Florida International University, met in the days after O'Neil's departure. During Thomas' coaching tenure at FIU, Dolan attempted to employ Thomas as a consultant, but the arrangement never formally materialized because it violated league rules.
Mills told ESPN NY Radio that Dolan and Thomas continue to enjoy a "good relationship" but reiterated that a return to New York wasn't in the cards for Thomas. Instead, Mills suggested that Thomas should be considered by the National Basketball Players Association's Executive Director position, which was vacated when the NBPA voted out Billy Hunter during a meeting at All-Star Weekend.
"I actually think given [Thomas'] background and what he was able to get accomplished as president of the Players Association, he's probably an excellent candidate for the executive director job at the National Basketball Players Association," Mills said.
Thomas served as president of the NBPA from 1988 until 1994.
In May 2012, Thomas indicated that he would welcome a return to basketball in some form after his dismissal by FIU.
"I definitely want to be in basketball again whether it be coaching or as a general manager," Thomas said, according to ESPNChicago.com. "My gift is basketball. I would love working with the kids. If it's the right college program, I would consider it. If it's the right GM job or coaching job in the NBA, I would consider it. I love the game. I just want to be in the game." Thomas, 52, spent all 13 years of his Hall of Fame career with the Pistons. He holds career averages of 19.2 points, 9.3 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 1.9 steals.