boston.com Sports Sportsin partnership with NESN your connection to The Boston Globe

Knicks' boss isn't doubting Thomas

Knicks coach Isiah Thomas has received a multiyear contract extension. Knicks coach Isiah Thomas has received a multiyear contract extension. (MARY ALTAFFER/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Isiah Thomas delivered "evident progress" sooner than needed.

Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan planned to wait all season before deciding on Thomas's future with the Knicks. But when New York fought through a few recent injuries to move into playoff position, Dolan concluded he no longer needed to wait.

So have gave Thomas a multiyear contract extension yesterday, nine months after he warned the Knicks coach and team president that the team needed to show improvement this season or he'd be out of a job.

"My thinking was that it was going to go the whole season," Dolan said. "But in the last few weeks I've just become absolutely convinced and I think they've shown, they've done what we asked them to do. And I felt that now is the time to do it."

The announcement comes with the Knicks having climbed into eighth place in the Eastern Conference. Dolan said he reached his decision sometime in the last 10 days, and Thomas said he was told about it Sunday night. Neither he nor Dolan provided any contract details, other than that Thomas would keep both jobs.

"I feel good that the uncertainty about my professional situation is cleared up," Thomas said after practice.

"But again, the most important thing is that we keep our team moving forward and we stay focused and continue to try to get into the playoffs."

Thomas added the coaching duties to his other role in June after Dolan fired Larry Brown following one season. But along with the job came the ultimatum, though Dolan never publicly said what the Knicks needed to do this season to demonstrate the "significant" and "evident" progress he sought.

Turns out wins and losses weren't the most important thing.

"The players getting better, the hard work, the heart that they showed, counted to me more than the won-loss record," Dolan said. "We wouldn't be sitting here today if we had the same record but the team did not show that it had the heart."

SEARCH THE ARCHIVES