N.Y. gets Thomas, Mohammed; Baker next?

Updated: February 16, 2004, 8:51 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

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 the globe.

"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.

Fantasy Spin
So much for Nazr Mohammed's fantasy opportunity. Expected to log heavy minutes with Theo Ratliff out of the picture in Atlanta, Mohammed instead lands a spot on New York's bench. There won't be enough minutes available behind Dikembe Mutombo and Kurt Thomas to make Mohammed more than a fantasy afterthought. The same can't be said for Tim Thomas, at least until a healthy Allan Houston regains 100 percent of his shooting duties. Thomas is too soft for fantasy stardom -- no rebounds or blocks -- but running with Stephon Marbury could boost his scoring with even more open looks from behind the arc.

Keith Van Horn may find life next to Michael Redd a lot like life next to Stephon Marbury. Van Horn was taking about as many shots in New York as Thomas was in Milwaukee, suggesting there's little reason to expect more than a modest bump in his fantasy totals.

Assuming his knee tendinitis had as much to do with roster space as anything else, Joel Przybilla is the sleeper in the three-way deal. If healthy, he'll split minutes in the post with Michael Doleac in Atlanta, and has the ability to block two-plus shots a game.
— Graham Hays

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 1997.

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.

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