NEW YORK — Isiah Thomas is actively seeking work again, and he spoke several weeks ago with Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling in a meeting arranged by current coach/general manager Mike Dunleavy, ESPN.com learned Wednesday.
Several NBA sources confirmed the February meeting between the former president and general manager of the New York Knicks, adding that there were follow-up discussions between Thomas and other high-ranking club officials — but also stressing that no job has been offered.
Sterling is said to be considering adding another executive to the Los Angeles front office to alleviate some of Dunleavy’s responsibilities in his dual role as coach and general manager. Former Lakers and Grizzlies general manager Jerry West was linked to a possible Clippers front office job before he publicly disavowed any interest.
The discussions between Thomas and the Clippers were described by one source as informal yet substantive. Thomas remains under contract to the Knicks for the remainder of this season and two more, but he has the franchise’s permission to seek employment elsewhere. He was fired as Knicks coach and general manager last spring and was replaced by Donnie Walsh in the front office and Mike D’Antoni on the bench.
One source with knowledge of Thomas’ thinking said it now appears he has shifted his focus to pursuing a head coaching position at the college level. The same source said Thomas’ name was discussed at the highest levels of the Grizzlies organization when Memphis fired Marc Iavaroni earlier this season.
Thomas’ stint running the Knicks was as unsuccessful as it was uncomfortable. He hired and then fired Lenny Wilkins and Larry Brown, was a defendant in a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a former marketing executive that MSG lost and was the object of taunts, protects and chants from disgruntled fans throughout 2007-08.
He has still not commented publicly on the circumstances surrounding an overdose of sleeping pills that hospitalized him last October, but he has not been keeping a low profile. He was spotted two weeks ago scouting the Pac-10 tournament and told The Associated Press: “I’ve still been very active, seeing a lot of games and doing a lot of scouting and looking forward to helping Donnie with the draft.”