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By MARK BERMAN
February 25, 2005 This time, Knicks owner James Dolan used his wallet in the name of the draft. In obtaining two first-round picks, the Knicks, getting slightly younger and more athletic, agreed to take on another $25 million in payroll at yesterday's trading deadline.
When you get through all the rubbish of the Knick trades, Isiah Thomas used starting center Nazr Mohammed to get back power forwards, Houston's Maurice Taylor and San Antonio's Malik Rose and two late first-round picks - one this June, one in 2006. The draft picks were the key.
The Knicks got more expensive and shorter, as Kurt Thomas became their starting center in last night's 113-101 win over Philly, using eight men. But Thomas accomplished what his aides had said he wanted - primarily to get younger and net draft picks. The Knicks will have two first-round picks this year and two next year.
Odds are, Thomas will have a mid-range lottery pick - about seven - but he is expected to try to package the two picks with another player to move up into the top three with a shot at 7-foot Australian center Andrew Bogut or North Carolina swingman Marvin Williams. Isiah said he'll have "creative ability in the draft."