December 15, 2005 -- KNICK NOTES
Isiah Thomas said he finally placed a formal call yesterday to Pacers honcho Donnie Walsh to express his interest in Ron Artest, but admitted he's not going all out to get him.
Thomas vowed last night he will not part with the young pieces he's assembled in the draft the past two years. That position will greatly thwart Thomas' efforts to gain Artest — most of the Knicks' veterans, even the younger ones, are overpaid and underachieving.
The only shot Thomas has is if the Pacers, notoriously thrifty, choose to clear cap space this summer by unloading the 26-year-old Artest and another big contract, such as Austin Croshere, for expiring Knicks contracts.
The Knicks have $28 million worth of expiring contracts in Antonio Davis and Penny Hardaway. A source familiar with the situation said any deal with the Pacers will require multiple players
. The Knicks don't like their chances.
Thomas made it clear he's not offering Channing Frye, Nate Robinson, David Lee or Trevor Ariza.
"I wouldn't part with any of them," Thomas said. "I like where we're headed."
Walsh said he's received calls from close to 20 teams.
Artest, 26, said he wants to be traded to the Knicks and would sign with the team as a free agent in 2008. The Knicks may have to wait.
"Very flattered," Thomas said. "That a great player such as himself would look at our rebuilding situation and publicly comment on how much he'd like to be a part of it. We're flattered about that."
Even though Jerome James was placed on the inactive list last night with an Achilles strain, Thomas said he does not have a deal in place today when free-agent contracts can be shipped.
James is one of several players whose contracts can be dealt starting today. Larry Brown often has talked about Dec. 15 being a date that could unleash a flurry of trades.
"There's always a possibility," Thomas said. "My job is always to try to better the team, work the phones, see who's available."
The Knicks are looking for a point guard and small forward and have shown interest in the Wizards' Jared Jeffries and Chucky Atkins. Point guards such as Darrell Armstrong, Antonio Daniels, also of Washington, and Brevin Knight can be dealt today.
Denver point guard Earl Watson, who signed as a free agent in late summer, is not eligible to be traded until Dec. 29, and he's piqued the Knicks' interest