LOS ANGELES -- In a performance that came quite close to
scene-stealing, Isiah Thomas took the podium in the official
All-Star news conference room and faced media members from across
"We made a trade," Thomas began, then spelled out the reasons
behind his third deal in less that two months as president of the
New York Knicks.
Thomas dealt Keith Van Horn to Milwaukee and acquired Tim Thomas and Nazr Mohammed in a three-team trade. The Atlanta Hawks acquired
Michael Doleac and a 2005 second-round draft pick from the Knicks,
along with Joel Przybilla from Milwaukee.
New York also sent a 2005 second-round
draft pick to Atlanta.
The NBA trading deadline is Thursday, and nobody should rule out
another deal by the Knicks -- or perhaps more than one.
"I inherited a situation that wasn't good," Isiah Thomas said.
"Until we're the best, we're not done."
Since taking over the team in late December, Thomas ridded the
roster of all but seven players who were with the Knicks when he
came aboard. Along with the coaching change of Lenny Wilkens for
Don Chaney, Thomas has turned over a majority of the franchise's
assets in a very brief amount of time.
The Knicks could also make a move for Vin Baker, who was waived by the Boston Celtics on Friday. Isiah Thomas has expressed interest for the former All-Star forward, the New York Daily News reported. Baker is expected to clear waivers Wednesday, making him a free agent.
"I wouldn't rule anything out at this point," Thomas told the Daily News.
This latest deal gives New York a new starting small forward in
Tim Thomas, and a new backup center in Mohammed. Both should be in
uniform Tuesday night when the Knicks play the Detroit Pistons.
Van Horn was averaging 16.4 points for New York, third on the
team behind Stephon Marbury and Allan Houston. Van Horn was
acquired last summer in a multi-team deal that sent Latrell Sprewell to Minnesota.
Isiah Thomas gave a strong hint about how he felt about that
deal on his first day on the job in New York, saying: "I wasn't on
the watch. What's done is done."
He said getting Mohammed was the key to the deal.
"We wanted to get more athletic and wanted to get tougher from
a rebounding standpoint. It gives us some insurance in case Kurt
Thomas leaves (as a free agent over the summer), if Doleac doesn't
come back and because Dikembe (Mutombo) is 38."
Mutombo will turn 38 in June.
Tim Thomas was averaging 14.1 points and 4.9 rebounds for
Milwaukee, where the seventh-year forward spent the past 4½
seasons. This is the second time Van Horn and Thomas have been
traded for each other, the previous deal coming on draft night in
Van Horn scored 20 or more points in three of the Knicks' final
six games before the All-Star break, tying his season high of 30 in
a Jan. 31 victory over Phoenix. He was New York's second-leading
rebounder, averaging 7.3.
The Bucks will become Van Horn's fourth team since he was the
No. 2 overall pick in the 1997 draft. He spent five seasons in New
Jersey and one in Philadelphia.
"This is a great addition for us," Bucks All-Star guard
Michael Redd said. "Keith is a quality guy, and he's going to
stretch the defense out -- maybe more than Tim did."
Doleac was averaging 5.0 points and 4.1 points as the backup to
Mutombo, his role increasing after Lenny Wilkens replaced Don
Chaney as coach.
Mohammed was averaging 6.5 points and 5.0 rebounds as the backup
in Atlanta, which has undergone its own roster overhaul in the past
week. The Hawks dealt Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Theo Ratliff and Dan
Dickau to Portland for Rasheed Wallace and Wesley Person.
Przybilla, in his fourth year, appeared in only five games for
the Bucks this season, scoring one point.
Atlanta has only five players under
contract beyond this season -- Jason Terry, rookie Boris
Diaw, Chris Crawford and Alan Henderson.
Those players account for
only about $21 million in salary, giving the Hawks -- in the final
stages of being sold -- at least $20 million in salary cap room to
pursue free agents in the offseason.
"The things that I'm trying to accomplish are things I think
will benefit the organization moving forward," Atlanta general
manager Billy Knight said. "I feel both of the moves will help us
rebuild the team the way we envision it."
Milwaukee has been one of the surprise teams in the Eastern
Conference, going into the All-Star break with a 27-24 record --
fifth-best in the conference.
The Knicks (25-29) have climbed into
second place in the Atlantic Division, while the Hawks (18-35) are
21 games behind Indiana in the Central Division.
Since taking over the Knicks, Isiah Thomas has acquired Marbury
and Penny Hardaway from Phoenix and Moochie Norris from Houston,
traded or cut Antonio McDyess, Howard Eisley, Clarence
Weatherspoon, Charlie Ward, Slavko Vranes and Maciej Lampe, as well
as dealing two future first-round draft picks and the rights to
point guard Milos Vujanic.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.