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Friday, January 21, 2005
Wilkens to meet with Knicks brass Saturday news services

All signs point to Lenny Wilkens resigning as coach of the New York Knicks on Saturday, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith reported Friday night.

Wilkens reportedly met with Knicks president Isiah Thomas after New York's last-second loss to Houston on Friday night and indicated he would likely resign as head coach.

The Knicks expect that he will tender his resignation Saturday morning. The team has been slumping, but Smith said that family issues are a factor in Wilkens' decision.

The Knicks' 92-91 loss to the Rockets on Scott Padgett's off-balance jumper at the buzzer gave New York nine defeats in its last 10 games.

"Lenny is doing some thinking right now," Thomas told the New York Daily News. "We'll see where he's at in the morning."

Asked if Wilkens was resigning, Thomas told the newspaper: "That I don't know. This is a tough situation. And I would imagine that he's probably in his thought process where Hubie Brown was in his thought process. Hubie was the coach of the year last year. Lenny coached us to the playoffs last year."

Brown stepped down from the Memphis Grizzlies in December.

The Daily News reported that assistant coach Herb Williams would take over the Knicks, whose slide has dropped them into third place in the weak Atlantic Division with a record of 17-22.

The 67-year-old Wilkens is both the winningest and losingest coach in NBA history, going 1,332-1,155 in 32 seasons with Seattle, Portland, Cleveland, Atlanta, Toronto and New York. He won his lone NBA title with the SuperSonics in 1979 and coached the United States to a gold medal in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

The anticipated coaching change came two days after the Knicks were outscored 17-2 in the final 4:55 of a 17-point loss at Toronto. That defensive meltdown was just one instance of the type of late-game breakdowns that have plagued the Knicks throughout this season.

The latest last-second letdown was Padgett's buzzer-beater, which came after New York's Jamal Crawford was unable to handle a pass from Stephon Marbury, leading to a shot-clock violation with 10.2 seconds left.

"We were up three with a minute to go. It seems that's been our life of late," Crawford said. "It has to turn. It can't be this bad."

New York lost 88-86 to Chicago on Monday, when Ben Gordon made a driving 8-footer with less than a second left.

Wilkens still has two years and $10 million left on his contract.

Last season, he led the Knicks to their first playoff berth since 2001, going 23-19 after taking over the team following Don Chaney's firing. The Knicks were then swept by New Jersey in the first round.

Information from the Associated Press was included in this report.