The Isiah Thomas Tax

Posted on June 1, 2008 by


Isiah Thomas and the New York Knicks have been a frequent topic of conversation at The Wages of Wins Journal.  And for those who missed out on this conversation, here are ten posts on Mr. Thomas and the Knicks (a top ten list, if you will).

A Eulogy for the Knicks of Isiah Thomas

Two From the Sun on the Knicks

Sort of Defending Isiah Thomas

Is There a Lesson Being Learned in New York?

Time to Play Balkman and the Genius of Isiah

The Curry Scoring Illusion

The Knicks and Team Chemistry

Isiah Thomas Discovers Role Players

Pinning Your Hopes on Eddy Curry?

Larry Brown or Isiah Thomas?

In April, Edmund Lee of Condé Nast Portfolio added to the discussion with The Thomas Tax.  Lee set out to calculate the amount of money that Thomas cost the New York Knicks.  Ignoring the amount of money Thomas received in salary, Lee estimates that the Thomas years cost the Knicks $186.6 million.

This estimate was derived by noting that…

  • The Knicks paid $137 million in NBA luxury taxes under Thomas.
  • Had these luxury taxes results in players who could have managed to win just half their games, the Knicks would have earned about $19.6 million more in gate revenue (this estimate came from me).
  • The Knicks paid $18.5 million to make Larry Brown go someplace else.
  • And the Knicks paid another $11.5 million in the Browne Sanders case.

To put this estimate in perspective, Thomas was hired on December 22, 2003 and finally re-assigned in the organization (in a role that did not involve talking to players) on April 18, 2008.  In all, Thomas was part of the Knicks for 1,580 days.  Given the size of the Thomas tax, the Knicks paid about $118,000 every day Thomas was a working member of the Knicks management team. 

And despite all this, Thomas was not actually fired from his job.   In fact, it appears that Thomas is still collecting money from the Knicks.  But I suspect it is no longer $100,000 a day, so I guess some progress has been made.

– DJ
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Wins Produced, Win Score, and PAWSmin are also discussed in the following posts:

Simple Models of Player Performance

Wins Produced vs. Win Score

What Wins Produced Says and What It Does Not Say

Introducing PAWSmin — and a Defense of Box Score Statistics

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