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Report: Knicks to replace Chaney with Fratello

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Don Chaney ran the Knicks' shootaround
Wednesday while awaiting word from team president Isiah Thomas on
whether Mike Fratello will be New York's next coach.

The New York Daily News reported Wednesday that Fratello will take over,
but Chaney was at practice as the Knicks prepared to play host to Orlando on Wednesday night.

Fratello, meanwhile, issued a statement that said he has "no
plans in place to leave my position as an analyst at TNT."

Chaney said he had heard nothing from Thomas about a change. The Knicks have called a news conference for 5:45 p.m. ET but did not say why.

"Without hearing anything one way or another is a sign of
disrespect to a degree," Chaney said. "If that's the case, I
think management should at least communicate to me just out of
respect."

Thomas was not at the team's suburban practice facility and was
unavailable for comment.

Fratello, a broadcaster for the Miami Heat, traveled with the
team from Sacramento to Salt Lake City following Miami's game
Tuesday night.

Greg Hughes, a spokesman for Turner Sports, said the network had
not been informed of any changes to Fratello's plans. His next
assignment for TNT is Monday.

"I've been in the league a long time, so when names come up I'm
not totally shocked by it. But I am a little bit concerned about my
players' focus for tonight's game," Chaney said.

The Daily News, citing anonymous sources close to Thomas, said
Chaney's run as Knicks coach could end as soon as after the game
against the Magic.

Thomas, who took over from Scott Layden as team president late
last month, appeared on the "Late Show" with David Letterman on
Tuesday night and was asked about his plans for Chaney.

"You definitely don't like to see anyone humiliated in such a
public forum," Thomas said of the chants. "It's a tough time for
him as a man."

Letterman then said: "So he's done, that's what you're
saying?" The audience exploded in laughter. Thomas laughed and did not answer. Letterman nudged Thomas, saying, "I'm just having fun."

Chaney said his wife, Jackie, had watched the Letterman show, but they
had not discussed what Thomas said.

Fans have chanted "Fire Chaney" at two of the last three
games, and New York has lost five of six to drop nine games under
.500.

"Horrible working conditions, definitely, but nothing's perfect and you have to deal with it," said Chaney, the target of another chant at Madison Square Garden on Monday night. Chaney said Tuesday it was the first time in his career -- as a player or a coach -- he's been the object of fans' disdain.

"It's like a dagger. It hurt. It was deep," Chaney said.

Chaney said the chant was most affecting his wife, but it bothered him, too.

"I'm human. You take it home," Chaney said. "She's not used to hearing that. She's only heard cheering when I've been in sports, so it's new to her and it's new to me."

Weary over the constant speculation about his future, Chaney
seemed eager for a resolution of some sort. He is 72-112 in
two-plus seasons in New York and 337-494 in 12 seasons overall as a
head coach.

"I can only expect to play the game tonight, and everything
else is up in the air," Chaney said. "I still have a job to do,
and I'm going to do it until something else is said to me or
there's a meeting saying that I am actually fired."

The players have already seen Layden fired, Thomas brought in
and Stephon Marbury acquired -- among several other moves -- since
Dec. 22, and what was unfolding Wednesday left many of them
uncomfortable.

They did not relish the possibility of playing one last game for
Chaney, a dignified coach whom they respect, in front of a home
crowd that might cheer his impending departure.

Allan Houston, who has been with the Knicks through the tenures
and departures of team executives Dave Checketts, Ernie Grunfeld
and Layden, struggled to put the latest developments into
perspective.

"I try to put so many of these crazy things out of my head,
sometimes you almost forget," Houston said. "But if I had a
hypnotist to bring all that stuff back, I don't know where it would
rank. It was crazy when we came to practice one day and all of a
sudden Jeff [Van Gundy] was gone. That was crazy. But that's just
the nature of how things have been."

Fratello, a former Knicks assistant under Hubie Brown 20 years ago, last coached in the NBA five years ago, in Cleveland. He has a career record of 572-465 with the Hawks and Cavaliers, and he is considered a very good defensive coach. The Knicks have struggled defensively this season.

If he replaces Chaney on Wednesday, Fratello's first game would be Friday against the Seattle SuperSonics at home. According to the Daily News, Mark Aguirre would remain on staff as an assistant. Thomas had added Aguirre to Chaney's staff earlier this season.

The status of assistants Brendan Malone, Lon Kruger, Michael Malone and Herb Williams is unclear, the newspaper reports.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.