|Monday, September 30
Thomas arrested on charges he assaulted his wife
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- The news for the New York Knicks came in two categories -- bad and worse.
In a day of unexpected major developments involving two key players, Kurt Thomas was arrested Monday in Greenwich, Conn., on a charge of assaulting his wife, and Latrell Sprewell arrived at the team's practice facility with a broken bone in his right hand.
Sprewell will undergo surgery Tuesday at a Manhattan hospital to repair a displaced fracture of the fifth metacarpal below the knuckle on his right (shooting) hand. He will wear a cast for four weeks and is not expected to begin practicing for at least six weeks.
The immediate prospects for Thomas, projected to be New York's starting center, were not clear.
Police were called to Thomas' home at 8:30 Monday morning, but he wasn't there. Police contacted him, and Thomas was arrested when he returned at 2:45 p.m. Thomas was charged with third-degree assault and risking injury to a minor, both misdemeanors, and he posted bail of $1,000, police Sgt. Richard Daly said.
The Knicks said Thomas was cooperating with authorities.
Neither Thomas nor Sprewell accompanied the team to Charleston, S.C. for the start of training camp, leaving Don Chaney without two-fifths of his starting lineup as he begins his first full camp as the team's head coach.
''We'll go with what we have, and the players who are not there -- they'll play catch-up,'' Chaney said.
The double dose of troublesome news hit the Knicks at a particularly bad time, just as they were about to embark on a season they hoped would erase the memories of their 30-52 finish last season when they missed the playoffs for the first time in 15 years.
As the Knicks' media day session was about to begin, the concerned look on the face of the team's spokesman gave a hint that all was not well.
Thomas had been involved in an ''alleged incident between him and his wife,'' said spokesman Joe Favorito, who then added that Sprewell had a right hand injury.
Team officials stayed tightlipped about both subjects throughout the media session and did not release details of Sprewell's injury until the team bus had departed.
As the rest of the team was heading to the airport, Sprewell pulled out of the players' parking lot, rolled down the window of his Cadillac sports utility vehicle and shook hands with a reporter, revealing a large swelling on the back of his hand.
Sprewell told trainer Mike Saunders that he injured his hand sometime during the summer, although he was not sure exactly when or how.
Sprewell's agent, Robert Gist, said he was unaware anything was wrong.
''You've got to understand we're dealing with probably the toughest player on our team, and he's not going to complain about anything,'' Chaney said. ''He's the epitome of a guy who doesn't complain about injuries.''
The type of fracture on Sprewell's hand is more serious than a non-displaced fracture, team spokesman Jonathan Supranowitz said. Sprewell is expected to join the team in Charleston on Wednesday after undergoing the surgery, although he will not be cleared to exercise for two weeks.
If Sprewell recovers in six weeks, he would not be available to play until late November or early December.
Sprewell was the team's second-leading scorer last season, averaging 19.4 points. He played in 81 of 82 games, sitting out a game in Miami late in the season after an unexcused absence from a morning shootaround.
There was no word on when the Knicks might be joined in camp by Thomas, who is expected to be New York's starting center. The team issued a statement saying ''the organization is going to be as helpful as possible to the Thomas family during this difficult time.''
Thomas was charged with the least serious degree of assault under Connecticut law, where statutes define third-degree assault as striking someone with the intent to cause injury. Second-degree assault would involve serious injury and first-degree assault involves injuries caused by a deadly weapon.