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David
07-21-2002, 08:51 PM
Knicks: Sprewell trade talks full of air

Sunday, July 21, 2002

By DAVE D'ALESSANDRO
Star-Ledger Staff

It is hard to dispute the fact that Allan Houston and Latrell Sprewell can no longer interact as well as
they have in the past, and it is irrefutable that having two shooting guards of All-Star caliber is a
luxury the Knicks can no longer afford.

The Knicks themselves have finally come to grips with these realities, and they have made it known
to every team in the league that Sprewell is available in trade. But the daily reports that they are
close to completing a deal are exaggerated, to say the least, one general manager from the Eastern
Conference said yesterday.

"Nothing has changed since midseason of last year,"
the GM said. "They're a year too late in moving
Sprewell, nobody wants the stuff the Knicks are offering,
and Sprewell makes no sense for a team looking for
young talent. It's almost as (preposterous) as that
summer they were trying to pawn off (soon-to-retire)
Larry Johnson on everybody.

"They're trying, they're trying very hard. (But) these
conversations don't last longer than a minute."

The reasons are obvious:

Sprewell turns 32 in seven weeks, and even he admits
his legs aren't what they used to be.

He will be paid $12.375 million next season, and very
few teams have the combination of players and salaries to match that in a trade.

He still has $41 million coming to him over the next three seasons, a cap-crusher that few teams
can afford, much less want to.

The GM noted with some amusement that such facts seem irrelevant to the media, judging by the
dissemination of misinformation in the past week.

On Wednesday, to the surprise of Minnesota vice president Kevin McHale, it was disclosed in the
press that Wally Szczerbiak's father was making personnel decisions for the Timberwolves, and
therefore a swap for Sprewell could be worked out (never mind that Szczerbiak makes only $2.3
million). The following day, McHale trashed the rumor on a radio show, stating, "I'm not trading with
those guys," adding that he doesn't like any Knicks player "because of a combination of contracts
and other things."

On Friday, to the surprise of Atlanta GM Pete Babcock, it was reported that the Knicks are engaged
in talks with Atlanta for Jason Terry, which Babcock said yesterday was "out of the blue."

"I'll tell you how valid this stuff is," Babcock said. "Stan Kasten (his boss) called me this morning
and wanted to know why I hadn't told him we were making the move. I told him, 'I don't know
anything about it.' There's absolutely no truth to it."

And, in the most infamous fantasy, it was widely reported a month ago that the Knicks "turned
down" Milwaukee's offer of Glenn Robinson for Sprewell. According to a Bucks official, the opposite
was true: Scott Layden called the Bucks asking whether they would consider taking Sprewell for
Robinson, and he was turned down. Since then, Layden's peers have speculated that the reported
spin was designed to increase Sprewell's value -- futile as that wound up being.

Instead, that truth underscores how difficult it is for Layden to move Sprewell, as even Milwaukee --
reportedly eager to move Robinson -- has no use for Sprewell, with their own shooting guard (Ray
Allen) pulling down a $12 million salary.

That is not to say the Knicks won't get what they need at a reduced return -- eventually. But there
are very few big men or point guards of quality that are considered "available," with the exception of
talented undesirables such as Vin Baker and Nick Van Exel. But good young players are impossible
to acquire, partly because they don't make enough money to match Sprewell's salary.

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