Hearings over, Brown's contract dispute left to Stern
NEW YORK -- It's now up to NBA commissioner David Stern to decide if Larry Brown is entitled to the remainder of his salary from the Knicks.
Isiah Thomas asked. Only four Knicks responded.
So much for the Knicks embracing Larry Brown's replacement.
Thomas sent letters to Knicks players asking that they attend informal workouts in New York the day after Labor Day. However, only four showed up, a team source told the New York Daily News.
In a report Tuesday, the paper reported that Channing Frye, David Lee and two other unnamed players arrived the day after the holiday; the majority of the team arrived last week.
When Thomas was named to replace Brown as coach, he was given one year to turn around last season's 23-59 team to the point that it shows "significant progress towards its goal of eventually becoming an NBA championship team."
On Monday, Thomas admitted "there are going to be some tough times" ahead. And while the poor attendance at the workouts doesn't mean the team is defying the coach, it's not a good start.
"It's a tough league. It's a very unforgiving league as we've seen the last couple of years," Thomas told the paper. "When you're down people kick you."
"The most important thing is that we come together as a unit and we think and act like one."
At the team's first official practice Tuesday, Steve Francis provided hope the Knicks are buying into Thomas' plan of building camaraderie and confidence between players.
"In one game this year we'll play more [together] than we did all of last season," Francis told the paper.
The fired New York coach wrapped up a second day of hearings at the NBA offices Tuesday. His financial fate now rests in Stern's hands.
After James Dolan fired Brown in June, the Madison Square Garden chairman refused to pay Brown the $40 million that was left for the remaining four years. Dolan said he had cause for the firing.
He cited Brown's refusal to follow the company's media policies and his tendency to overstep his role as coach and get involved in personnel decisions as key reasons for withholding the coach's salary.
A clause in Brown's contract made Stern the arbiter if there was any dispute, and the commissioner heard nearly 15 hours of testimony Friday and Tuesday from Brown's legal team, Garden officials and other witnesses.
Neither side would comment before or after the hearings. Dolan, who left nearly an hour before Brown, planned to fly after the session to Charleston, S.C., where the Knicks opened training camp Tuesday under Isiah Thomas, Brown's successor.
Thomas attended Friday's hearing but was not required to appear Tuesday. MSG sports president Steve Mills and senior vice president of communications Barry Watkins joined Dolan for the second day.
Stern ordered both sides to submit posthearing submissions, which he will review before ruling on the matter.
There is no deadline for Stern's decision, but it will likely be more than a week. He is scheduled to leave Wednesday for Europe, where Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Antonio and the Los Angeles Clippers are playing exhibition games against foreign teams as part of the NBA Europe Live tour.
Stern is planning to see games in Italy, Russia, France, Spain, and Germany. The games begin Thursday and run through Oct. 11.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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