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Will Patrick Ewing play in New York next season? Likely.
If the Knicks do not redo his contract by the end of the season, the franchise center is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent. Ewing's oddly structured deal, which pays him about $4.3 million this season but only $3 million in 1991-92, stipulates that he must be one of the NBA's four highest-paid players or he can say bye-bye. And when next season begins, at least six other players will be making more than $3 million. Certainly Ewing's dissatisfaction with a sinking team and the absence of a person in the organization with whom he feels close would seem to make him all too willing to take a hike.
Nothing makes more sense, even though Thompson's representatives at Pro-Serv, the same agency that handles Ewing, say that no talks have taken place between Thompson and the Knicks. Last summer Thompson strongly considered becoming the Nuggets' general manager, and the New York position would present the kind of creative challenge Thompson would relish.
An alternative scenario, in which Rod Thorn, the NBA's Director of Operations, would take over for Bianchi, gained credence when the league hired Jackson for an executive's position right below Thorn's. But a Thompson-Ewing reunion makes more sense.
When his career ends, the Bucks' Alvin Robertson, 28, will almost certainly be recognized as the best ball thief in NBA history. Robertson holds the league records for total steals (301) and highest pergame average (3.67) in a season, both set when he was with San Antonio in 1985-86, and he could eclipse those marks this year. At week's end Robertson had 164 thefts, for an average of 3.49 per game; closest to him was the Jazz's John Stockton (127 and 2.82).
Steals are made in three basic ways, and Robertson is expert in them all. He has the quick hands needed to swipe the ball. He has the anticipation to sneak into passing lanes and make interceptions. And he has the quickness and strength to double-down on a big man near the basket and pry the ball away from him.
"But the real key to Alvin is that he just works so hard at it," says Don Buse, a league leader in steals during his playing days (1972-85). ' "I don't think there's anyone else in the game who gets after it every single play like Alvin."