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Jack McCallum
February 11, 1991
The Apple Turns
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February 11, 1991

The Nba

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The Apple Turns

With the Knicks standing at an anemic 20-25 through Sunday, here are some questions surrounding one of the NBA's most disappointing teams:

Will general manager Al Bianchi be gone at the end of the year? Highly likely.

Almost to a man, general managers around the league defend Bianchi. They say that Bianchi is very much "in the circuit," making calls and trying to make deals. He is hampered by New York's being over the salary cap and by a $13.7 million payroll that is second only to Cleveland's $14.3 million. Clearly it is not a simple matter for Bianchi to make a deal.

But Bianchi's employers at Madison Square Garden, the Paramount Communications Inc. subsidiary that runs the Knicks, gave Bianchi only a one-year contract extension last summer, and he is nobody's candidate for executive of the year. His fatal flaw was overestimating his team in the preseason, mistaking New York's first-round playoff win over Boston last season as a sign of strength. Bianchi should have seen that the Knicks had to make a move or two to even come close to matching Eastern Conference powers such as the Pistons and the Bulls.

Will coach John MacLeod depart with Bianchi? Very likely.

Bianchi brought in MacLeod, an old friend, after Stu Jackson took the fall in December for the Knicks' getting off to a 7-8 start. But they've played even worse (13-17) under MacLeod.

Will New York try to change its team chemistry by making a deal before the Feb. 21 trading deadline? Likely.

But it probably won't be a blockbuster. The Knicks would love to get native New Yorker Chris Mullin from the Warriors, of course, but Golden State probably would not let that happen. More realistic possibilities are the Clippers' Danny Manning and the Timberwolves' Tony Campbell, players who would like to go to the Big Apple.

In return, the Knicks would gladly surrender one or more of the following: guards Mark Jackson, Trent Tucker and Gerald Wilkins and forward Kenny Walker. And though Bianchi says that he won't part with power forward Charles Oakley, he might need to move Oakley to get something of value.

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