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Isiah!

Okay, more basketblogging. The thing about Isiah Thomas taking over the Knicks is that the odds overhwelmingly favor the team slightly improving next season. It's a kind of "nowhere left to go but up" sort of situation -- last year's squad was very near the theoretically maximum level of badness. All Thomas really needs to do is avoid totally alienating his players, and the team will do a bit better. Nothing will, of course, actually get solved this way, but that's how it'll roll.

Basically, the team's only hope is for people holding pricey season tickets to start dropping their packages. Then you might get serious change. Plus, my dad would get the chance to move into better seats. It's hard to imagine from the outside, but the team has actually suffered shockingly few consequences as a business from its lamentable performance over the past several years. Since the team is, at the end of the day, a business, that's what counts.

June 23, 2006 | Permalink

Comments

"It's hard to imagine from the outside, but the team has actually suffered shockingly few consequences as a business from its lamentable performance over the past several years. Since the team is, at the end of the day, a business, that's what counts."

But it's not really a for-profit business. It's a money hemorrhaging showpiece in a family run conglomerate. There have been shockingly few consequences because the flood of red ink (which long predates Zeke) is comfortably being paid for out of other accounts.

At the end of the day, what counts is Papa Dolan's indulgence of his son's hobby.

Posted by: Petey | Jun 23, 2006 1:35:16 AM

But it's not really a for-profit business. It's a money hemorrhaging showpiece in a family run conglomerate

I'd be surprised if they don't make money simply by virtue of the television rights. And the Knicks are going to suck for a long, long time. There's a better than even chance that Isiah will finally snap and kill a player this season. (I'm betting on Nate.) It's going to be ugly.

Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Jun 23, 2006 1:45:14 AM

"I'd be surprised if they don't make money simply by virtue of the television rights."

Surprised or not, they don't. Not even close. I'm not joking when I say the franchise is hemorrhaging money.

Family run conglomerates can have some expensive hobbies for the children to run. The Murdochs have the Post. The Dolans have the Knicks.

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I've seen some speculation that LB would be a perfect fit in Washington. Be very, very scared, 'zards fans.

Posted by: Petey | Jun 23, 2006 2:18:38 AM

Playoff games are so amazingly remunerative to the Knicks that I think the economic analysis here is way off. Crazy expensive tickets (even more so, plus all the usual ancillary sources of revenue) & I'm guessing they get some of the backend enhanced local TV, although I'm not familiar with their TV deal.

Almost of these marginal revenues are marginally costless, and I'd bet they figure into their baseline calculations each year.

Scotty Layden has gotten away with murder b/c he was so much lower profile than Isaih.

Posted by: Jeff H | Jun 23, 2006 7:21:24 AM

I am a lifelong Knicks fan. One of my greatest memories is listening on the radio to Game 7 as Willis Reed hobbled onto the court -- you could hear my entire block in Brooklyn cheering. But I'm telling you now: I'm done with them.

I will not watch a single game, and if I do, I will not root for them. In fact, I will root against them. I will root against them because they are not only a bad team, they are an unlikeable team. I will root against them because, with the exception of one or two players, I put in more hard work and effort watching the game than they do playing it.

Mostly, though, I will root against them because Dolan and Thomas have trashed the team I love, and nothing short of disaster is going to get those two out of there and give the Knicks a chance at resurrection.

Posted by: Daniel L. | Jun 23, 2006 9:01:14 AM

Jeff - The Knicks have had a total of two playoff home games (2004 against Nets) in the last five seasons. Where is the "amazing remuneration" ?

Posted by: next big thing | Jun 23, 2006 10:53:28 AM

"The Knicks have had a total of two playoff home games (2004 against Nets) in the last five seasons. Where is the "amazing remuneration" ?"

I think the point is that sucking has a real financial cost to the Knicks, even if they keep selling out their regular season games.

You definitely see this effect in baseball though (which obviously has a lot more regular season games and less playoffs, so even more exaggerated.) Under the current ownership, you're probably not going to see teams like the Cubs or the Dodgers get much better (unless they get very lucky with a draft) because it's easier and more profitable not to bother. Plus, in the Dodgers' case, they can occasionally go 83-79 and win the division, which distracts from the general mediocrity

Posted by: MattT | Jun 23, 2006 12:34:07 PM

Forbes somehow came up with a valuation of $550 million(-ish) for the Knicks this year. I don't know anything about the methodology that was used. But either people think that the money problems can be fixed in a hurry, or the Knicks aren't the financial pit of despair that some believe. At $100 per seat per game in revenue, the Knicks appear to make about $81 million from attending fans over the season. (I don't know how luxury boxes work into all of that.) My suspicion is that each seat generates more than $100 per game.

Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Jun 23, 2006 12:59:33 PM

What you myopic troglodytes fail to grasp is the sheer magnitude of "Bluesmeister" James Dolan's celestial mindfuck. He and fellow neoDada installation artist Isiah "Zekos" Thomas set out with one lofty goal: to turn a celebrated franchise in one of the world's greatest markets into a giant, sprawling, chaotic maelstrom of uberegos and humongocontracts. It's a blatant show of narcissistic glee in a crusted decanter of nihilistic faux-gauche elegance. It's a sublime trainwreck of heartbreak, financial ruin, soapy pathos and schadenfreude. The 50 million clameo by fellow astral traveler Lars Brun was but a petulant "fuck you" to the crudthirsty engines of crapitalism, the crass crumbercialism of mouldern splorts, and the jingoizmic gyrations of this paygan-cum-fundy cesspot of an oilcannation obsessed with NASCAR and homo habitus.

Bravo, kudos, encore encore-- Starbury, Eddy Lionheart, Gnate the Gnome, St. Franchise, Carol Channing Fryed, the Rose twins, Jalen and Malik, Jerome is Burning, Jamal CrawfordRanch, the big man with the plan JD, clameo specialista Lars Brun, and of course, the only man with the brassy cojones to harass this massive morass of crass asses to a loftier crevasse, Zekos Magnumos, Isiah "No need for two A's, I C your two T's, and there's my second (first) A right there, ma'am" the Prophet of Lost Profit Thomas.

Amen.
Gold star.
Hare hare krishna.
Go 'bockers!

Posted by: Greg | Jun 23, 2006 1:45:05 PM

The strange thing is that if Isiah could stop himself from trading his old expiring contracts for new expiring contracts just this time, the Knicks could improve relatively quickly. They have 40 million in expiring salaries this year and most of the guys are expendable (Rose, Taylor, Anderson, Jerome Williams). Allan Houston comes off the books after next season, too. And most of the other guys are relatively young (Frye, Curry, Crawford, Richardson, Robinson). If Zeke could let the bad contracts expire, draft some help and get a young PG they would be in a pretty good situation.

Posted by: Carlos | Jun 23, 2006 4:42:29 PM

If Zeke could let the bad contracts expire, draft some help and get a young PG they would be in a pretty good situation.

Julio, at this point it's like giving the tin man bypass surgery. You just can't fix someone as pigheaded and solipsistic as Zeke. There's always room for Iverson in MSG. And heck, why not trade CFrye for ben Gordon while you're at it? Isiah is a congenitally retarded GM-- let's hope he proves as entertaining as a coach.

Posted by: Greg | Jun 23, 2006 4:49:20 PM

If Zeke could let the bad contracts expire, draft some help and get a young PG they would be in a pretty good situation.

If my aunt had nuts, she'd be my uncle.

Posted by: Pooh | Jun 23, 2006 5:01:02 PM

Hey, I didn't said he'd do it, just that he HAD some good options now (as opposed to the time when he took the reins). As far as I'm concerned, Dolan should have fired Brown AND Isiah although I'll admit that I think that Thomas improved the Knicks roster somewhat (at a quite significant monetary cost, though).

Posted by: Carlos | Jun 23, 2006 5:25:46 PM

Marbury and Francis belong on the court together like two Pit Bulls in a nursery. Eddy Curry's heart has a worse shelf-life than a baked potato- with sour cream. Jalen Rose makes Deion Sanders look like Lucy Liu. And Anucha Browne's abotu as hot as a coffee enema.

Tell me Carlos, whatever are you smoking?

Posted by: Greg | Jun 23, 2006 5:29:21 PM

the team has actually suffered shockingly few consequences as a business from its lamentable performance over the past several years.

depends what you mean by this. clearly they have the highest payroll by far in the league, and simply not being extravagantly wasteful in spending on players would be a very good thing from a business point of view. given that you could field a team of all, say, $1-2M salary players with one guy like Marbury to sell merchandise, and win a similar number of games, it's hard to justify any of that additional expense from a business point of view.

unless all the tabloid coverage of how ridiculous the knicks have become is actually selling tickets. not impossible, but depressing.

Posted by: right | Jun 23, 2006 5:31:49 PM

Well, I think that we are forgetting how the Knicks situation pre-Isiah was. Their roster had all three cardinal sins; old, mediocre and overpaid. Now their roster is just as mediocre and just as overpaid but they are certainly not as old. I count that as an improvement.

Posted by: Carlos | Jun 23, 2006 5:50:42 PM

If on draft day you Knicks fans hear, "There has been a trade between the Chicago Bulls and the New York Knicks," you should just turn off the television because, chances are, Isiah just traded Channing Frye for Tyson Chandler.

John Paxson must be sitting near the phone right now saying, "When's Isiah going to call?"

Posted by: a | Jun 23, 2006 6:01:58 PM

It's hard to imagine from the outside, but the team has actually suffered shockingly few consequences as a business from its lamentable performance over the past several years.

I'm curious - how does Matthew actually know this? Does he have some inside info into what the Knicks' revenues and profit was for the past few years? I mean, the anecdotal evidence that there have been few "people holding pricey season tickets" that have been "dropping their packages" is nice, but (a) is it actually true and (b) to what extent has the Knicks woes caused OTHER revenues (i.e., skybox revenues, or ads on MSG cable) to decline? It could very well be that the Knicks have been hurt a LOT financially by their bad play the past few years - who knows? The problem is that the Knicks are just a very small part of the Cablevision empire, so any loss on their part is just a small drop in the Cablevision bucket.

Just some numbers: the MSG revenues as a WHOLE (which includes a TON of other things besides the Knicks, such as the Rangers, the building, Radio City Music Hall, etc.) had revenues of $800 million in 2005, which was only about 15% of Cablevision's $5.1 billion in revenue.

Posted by: Al | Jun 23, 2006 6:11:05 PM

"The problem is that the Knicks are just a very small part of the Cablevision empire, so any loss on their part is just a small drop in the Cablevision bucket."

Yup. I tried to make that point upthread.

But all of MSG is being run for reasons other than profit/loss. This is pretty clear if you've been following the Dolans even casually. The recent political battle to stop a west side stadium to benefit MSG was also a losing proposition in profit/loss terms.

All of MSG is being run as a hobby for James Dolan, seemingly happily tolerated by his father. It is not being run as a traditional business with decisions prompted by a need to make money. Any attempt to understand the Knicks absent of that fact will fail.

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I've read a couple of items over the past few years that attempted to break the Knicks financial picture out of MSG as a whole, and the conclusion reached was that they're hemorrhaging money.

Posted by: Petey | Jun 23, 2006 6:28:49 PM

"If on draft day you Knicks fans hear, "There has been a trade between the Chicago Bulls and the New York Knicks," you should just turn off the television because, chances are, Isiah just traded Channing Frye for Tyson Chandler."

The hot rumor is Chandler and the #2 pick to Phoenix for Marion.

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The case for Phoenix trading Marion is so blindingly obvious that I think it'll be evidence that Phoenix post-Colangelo has lost their mojo if a trade isn't done.

Posted by: Petey | Jun 23, 2006 6:33:38 PM

Chandler is awful. Just awful. I've never seen someone so eager to get the ball out of his hands. If I were the Suns, I might trade Marion for the #2, but I would never take Chandler unless I already had a deal in place to ship him off somewhere else.

Since taking over the Bulls, Paxson has been phenomenal, except for the Chandler siging. It was a big mistake.

Posted by: a | Jun 23, 2006 6:41:12 PM

Is it possible the Knicks won't have to pay Brown for the whole contract? Michael Wilbon said he doubts the Knicks will end up paying Brown all of the contract. He said that David Stern will have the final say in how much Brown will get out of the Knicks. Can someone explain this?

Posted by: a | Jun 23, 2006 6:48:26 PM

"Since taking over the Bulls, Paxson has been phenomenal"

Yup.

"Chandler is awful. Just awful. I've never seen someone so eager to get the ball out of his hands."

Nope.

Chandler ain't being paid for his offense. He's likely to slowly develop as an offensive player over time, but that'll just be an extra bonus.

Posted by: Petey | Jun 23, 2006 6:49:35 PM

"Is it possible the Knicks won't have to pay Brown for the whole contract? Michael Wilbon said he doubts the Knicks will end up paying Brown all of the contract. He said that David Stern will have the final say in how much Brown will get out of the Knicks. Can someone explain this?"

David Stern is the legal arbiter of all contract disputes. The Knicks are trying to fire Brown 'for cause' due to insubordination. They've got a flimsily plausible case on those grounds.

The smart opinion is saying Dolan will only end up paying about a quarter on the dollar on the remaining $40m, although it's obviously only a wild guess at this point.

Posted by: Petey | Jun 23, 2006 6:52:44 PM

But all of MSG is being run for reasons other than profit/loss. This is pretty clear if you've been following the Dolans even casually.

Well, accoridng to Cablevision's financial statements, the MSG segment as a whole has positive net income. I don't know what the ROI is, of course, but it would be interesting to know how much of the reported profit is real.

As far as the Knicks, as a standalone entity, go, it's hard to tell, given the fact that they are but one part of a larger MSG enterprise. After all, how would you know what the television deal really is? Given that the cable station and the team are related entities, their relationship is hardly arm's length. Similarly, the Knicks' lease from the building can be structured in a way to look bad for the team or good for the team, depending on what part of the business you want to look good.

Also, the Dolan's relationship is an interesting one. Charles and James have had a number of feuds over the years over Cablevision assets - in fact, IIRC, James at one point was trying to take over the company from his father.

Posted by: Al | Jun 23, 2006 6:53:45 PM

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