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jayC
02-13-2003, 04:39 PM
Pick may be golden nugget

Thursday, February 13, 2003

By AL IANNAZZONE
Staff Writer



NEW YORK - The 2003 second-round draft pick the Knicks received from Denver in the Antonio McDyess trade could prove valuable this next week.

With the Nuggets being the second-worst team in the league, the Knicks could be holding the 30th, 31st, or 32nd pick. And since teams are looking to dump players for draft choices, general manager Scott Layden's chances of making a trade by the Feb. 20 deadline could be bolstered. Layden might be able to package the pick with another player or players and get a big man he craves.

At this point, nothing appears imminent. But the Knicks have had discussions with the Grizzlies about 7-foot Pau Gasol and inquired about Clippers forward Elton Brand. However, Los Angeles does not want to take back any hefty salaries.

Other big-name players available are Miami's Brian Grant, who makes too much for the Knicks to want him, Toronto's Vince Carter, and Atlanta's Shareef Abdur-Rahim. The Heat also are dangling their first-round pick to help consummate a deal.

"[There's] nothing to jump up and click your heels over," coach Don Chaney said about the trade scenarios with which Layden has approached him. "If [something] happens, I'll go with it. If it doesn't, I'll go with that, too."

Latrell Sprewell remains the player the Knicks are trying the hardest to trade, but it's looking more and more like he will stay.

NBA owners want smaller contracts to avoid the impending luxury tax penalty. That has made Charlie Ward, whose contract can be bought out for $2 million next season, Othella Harrington (due $6 million over the next two seasons), Travis Knight, a free agent after 2003-04, and Lee Nailon, signed only through this season, the most attractive Knicks. Add their second-round pick to one or more of these players, and New York may have a new player by next Thursday.

MOST IMPROVED TEAM: The Warriors, whose 22 wins before Wednesday have eclipsed last season's total, have three candidates for Most Improved Player.

Sparta's Troy Murphy (11.9 points, 10.3 rebounds before Wednesday) is averaging six points and 6.4 rebounds more than last season; Gilbert Arenas (16.8 points, 6.3 assists) is averaging six points and 2.6 assists more; and 5-5 Earl Boykins, also a candidate for Best Sixth Man, is recording 6.3 points and 1.9 assists more than 2001-02.

Murphy said the 17 pounds he added to his frame have helped his rebounding, particularly late in games.

Al Iannazzone's e-mail address is iannazzone@northjersey.com


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