Carmelo, Prokhorov to meet over All-Star Weekend

Marc Stein sifts through the latest Carmelo trade buzz for ESPN:

Although details of a formally scheduled meeting have yet to emerge, Denver officials are operating under the assumption that Melo and Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov will finally meet face-to-face during All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles, according to sources close to the process. The Nuggets encourage that meeting, sources say, because trading with New Jersey has always been more favorable to Denver than dealing with New York and because the Nuggets — who still like New Jersey’s Derrick Favors better than any player who’s been made available to them in the months-long Melo trade saga — know that the Nets remain unwilling to participate in a trade unless Anthony also commits to an extension in New Jersey.

This is the same billionaire who pulled out of the Carmelo trade talks earlier this season because he felt like his team was distracted and was potentially being used to spur negotiations with the Knicks. That may still be the case, but the trade deadline is fast approaching and if Prokhorov can sell Carmelo on the idea of playing in Brooklyn, the Nets and Nuggets may be able to make a deal because the Nuggets want Favors. Keep in mind that Prokhorov’s spokesperson says that nothing has changed with regard to the Nets’ non-pursuit of Anthony.

Meanwhile, Knicks GM Donnie Walsh is dealing with owner James Dolan, who may be more willing to gut the roster to acquire Anthony before the deadline. Carmelo’s meeting with the Nets has to be putting the pressure on Walsh to make a deal, though the Knicks are also expected to meet with Anthony in Los Angeles.

If Prokhorov is smart (and he is), he should bring part owner Jay-Z to help sell the Nets franchise. Who knows, maybe Carmelo will be as impressed by Prokhorov as LeBron was last summer.

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Isiah Thomas won’t serve as consultant for the Knicks

NEW YORK - MARCH 08:  Head coach Isiah Thomas of the New York Knicks watches from the sideline against the Portland Trail Blazers at Madison Square Garden March 8, 2008 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Knicks fans can breathe a sigh of relief, at least for now. Apparently, Zeke’s consulting deal breaks all sorts of NBA conflict-of-interest rules.

Isiah Thomas is not taking the consultant’s job with the New York Knicks, sources close to the NBA told ESPN 1050 New York.

Thomas was in communication with commissioner David Stern’s office and then rescinded his acceptance because of the conflict-of-interest by-laws of the NBA. Knicks owner and Madison Square Garden president Jim Dolan is expected to release a statement shortly.

I don’t think Thomas’s relationship with the Knicks is even close to over. Dolan seems to have one hell of a man crush on Zeke and I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets his old job back once Donnie Walsh is eventually let go.

This might be a case of the NBA saving Dolan from himself. Thomas may have helped in landing Amare Stoudemire, but I don’t think Carmelo Anthony would want to sign on knowing that Thomas is the one calling the shots. The guy was good at evaluating talent in the draft, but he made a series of horrible trades that put the Knicks in the position they are today.

Did Donnie Walsh almost resign?

Knicks President Donnie Walsh listens while Amar'e Stoudemire speaks to the media at a press conference after Stoudemire signed a 5 year and nearly 100 million dollar contract to play with the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden in New York City on July 8, 2010.    UPI/John Angelillo Photo via Newscom

Per the NY Daily News

The Daily News has learned that Donnie Walsh considered resigning after Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan made the controversial move to hire Thomas, but Walsh decided to continue running the team despite his objections to Thomas having a role in the front office.

“Donnie finds this entire thing distasteful,” said one NBA source. “He’s had second thoughts about staying but he wants to finish the job.”

olan’s insistence on giving Thomas the ambiguous title of consultant angered Walsh, who for two years has been trying to hire former St. John’s All-American Chris Mullin as general manager. Dolan has refused to sign off on hiring Mullin and clearly has designs on giving that position to Thomas, who also holds the title of head coach at Florida International University in Miami.

The News reported yesterday that Dolan advised Walsh to hire Thomas as his general manager two weeks ago. When Walsh refused, Dolan decided to make Thomas a consultant, a move that was universally panned by several of Dolan’s top executives, according to sources.

Besides Walsh and Knicks head coach Mike D’Antoni being against the move, Garden vice chairman Hank Ratner and Garden president Scott O’Neil voiced their displeasure but were overruled by Dolan, sources said.

As I wrote last week, Thomas’s GM talents are limited to college scouting and the draft. He performed pretty well in that area during his tenure as Knicks GM, but was a disaster in all other areas of the job. He was regularly fleeced in trades and was accused of sexually harassing a woman who worked for him.

To say that Dolan’s hiring of Thomas has been ‘universally panned’ is an understatement. Why the owner would bring Thomas back after such a terrible first stint is perplexing indeed.

Maybe the NBA will step in and save Dolan from himself. The league is looking into the details of Zeke’s deal, which may not be legal under the league’s rules, given his current job as head coach at FIU.

Isiah Thomas rejoins the Knicks…

NEW YORK - MAY 5:  Isiah Thomas, President of the New York Knicks, speaks at MTV Networks UpFront at The Theater at Madison Square Garden May 5, 2004 in New York City.  (Photo by David S. Holloway/Getty Images)

…as a ‘consultant.’

Um, ok.

Per Marc Berman:

Knicks are about to announce Isiah Thomas will be named a part-time consultant to club but keeps his job at FIU. Weird.

This isn’t all that surprising after the Knicks enlisted Thomas in a last-ditch pitch to LeBron a few weeks ago. I don’t know why you would trot out (arguably, thanks to Kevin McHale) the worst GM of the aughts to try to convince one of the league’s best players that your team is headed in the right direction. If anything, wouldn’t you want to convince him that he has nothing to do with the day-to-day operations of the franchise?

For all of his faults, Thomas did draft pretty well while GM of the Knicks.

Here’s a look:

2004: Trevor Ariza (#43 overall)
2005: Channing Frye (#8), David Lee (#30)
2006: Renaldo Balkman (#20), Mardy Collins (#29)
2007: Wilson Chandler (#23)

That’s not a bad run considering he only had one pick in the #8. It’s not easy to find rotation players in the late first round (or second round) and he was 3-for-5 in that area, picking an All-Star (Lee) and two starter-quality swingmen (Ariza and Chandler).

I could see a team putting him in charge of scouting or the draft, but I’d keep him out of all trade discussions.

As for the fact that he’s going to keep his coaching job at FIU — WTF? Coaching a Division I basketball team is a full time job, and he’s going to be working part time for the Knicks?

Mike D’Antoni to testify at Marbury’s hearing

Knicks head coach Mike D’Antoni will miss practice to testify about his interaction with Stephon Marbury earlier this season when the guard allegedly refused to play in a game against the Pistons.

They’ll be back in each others’ faces Tuesday, and the hearing will force coach Mike D’Antoni to miss practice while he testifies before grievance arbitrator Calvin Sharpe, a Case Western Reserve University law professor, to recount exactly what was said on that November day at a suburban Detroit hotel when D’Antoni purportedly told Marbury he wanted him in the lineup that night and was prepared to give him regular playing time going forward.

Marbury has said his response was something along the lines of “I thought y’all were going in a different direction,” and he has maintained that he was careful not to say anything that could be construed as a refusal because that would technically put him in violation — if not breach — of his contract.

Marbury asked for an expedited grievance hearing, and the hearing will convene at 10 a.m. with Marbury, Walsh, D’Antoni and a handful of lawyers in attendance.

“I’ll have to [say] what happened, the way I saw things,” said D’Antoni, who also appeared less than thrilled at the prospect of spending several hours in a law office conference room sitting across the table from the one person who has managed to keep himself a sideshow and a distraction throughout this season.

The Knicks hold all the cards here, and unlike most NBA franchises, they are used to the media circus. I’d say two teams could handle having Marbury sidelined the entire season — the Knicks and the Lakers. With Marbury only offering $1 million in unpaid salary to secure his release, there isn’t much incentive for the Knicks to let him go. The Knicks are just 2 1/2 games out of the 8th spot in the East, and could very well face the Celtics in the first round in the playoffs. They’d gladly pay $1 million so that he can’t come back to bite them in the playoffs.

I don’t understand why Marbury didn’t take the Knicks $3 million offer. He needs to get his career back on track and he’s not going to be able to do that as long as he’s with the Knicks.

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