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Knicks Are Still Pursuing Wallace and Dampier
By LIZ ROBBINS

Published: February 18, 2004

siah Thomas made one deal for the Knicks this week, and he is pushing to make a second one by tomorrow's 3 p.m. trading deadline. He still hopes to obtain one of two post players who have been high on his wish list: Atlanta's Rasheed Wallace or Golden State's Erick Dampier.

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The Hawks are trying to move Wallace a week after acquiring him in a multiplayer trade. Bill Strickland, Wallace's agent, was at Madison Square Garden last night to see another client, Allan Houston, and to speak with Thomas.

Strickland confirmed Wallace's strong interest in playing in New York. "Our preference is to make that now, before the deadline, but Rasheed would be willing to explore the option of a midlevel exception this summer," Strickland said.

A minimum of five teams are interested in Wallace, but Strickland would not comment about specifics. Detroit, Dallas and Philadelphia have expressed interest.

The Knicks may not have enough pieces to make a straight-up deal for Wallace, who will make $16.9 million this season, his final one before he becomes a free agent this summer.

A person familiar with Thomas's thinking said the Knicks would have to offer Kurt Thomas, Othella Harrington, Dikembe Mutombo and a player like Mike Sweetney or Frank Williams.

To complete a trade for Wallace, a two-time All-Star, Isiah Thomas would most likely have to involve at least one other team.

"You bring his name up to anybody in this league, and every coach is going to go, `Wow,' " Pistons Coach Larry Brown said of Wallace before last night's 92-88 loss to the Knicks. "And every teammate he's ever been with has been pretty positive with him."

It is clear to people around the league that Isiah Thomas still wants the Knicks to get bigger, tougher and quicker. And that could mean he might still trade Kurt Thomas to get Dampier, a 6-foot-11 center. Dampier is having the best season of his eight-year career and fits Thomas's plan for an inside presence.

Dampier is averaging 11.6 rebounds and 11.9 points, but Golden State is shopping him. The team is concerned that he will exercise his opt-out clause and relinquish the final two seasons, worth $17 million.

Indiana and Memphis are pursuing Dampier. The Knicks would have to include more than Kurt Thomas to make the salaries match, and add Williams or Sweetney.

The former Celtics forward Vin Baker is expected to clear waivers today, and Thomas affirmed Monday that he was still interested in Baker, who is battling alcoholism. Atlanta is expected to waive Michael Doleac, according to an Eastern Conference official, and the Knicks could get him back as a free agent if another team does not claim him off waivers.

Thomas still has other chips to trade, including Moochie Norris and Shandon Anderson, whose contracts are weighty but could be used to complete a multiteam deal.

"Aside from New York, I don't think anyone makes trades in our league," Brown said.

love that last line!