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MIAMI --- When asked directly if he is consulting with Knicks owner James Dolan about the Carmelo Anthony trade, Isiah Thomas would not say.
"I have no comment," Thomas told ESPNNewYork.com after his Florida International University lost to rival Florida Atlantic 80-78 in overtime Saturday to remain in last place in the Sun Belt Conference's East division.
There have been reports that Dolan is listening to Thomas, a former Knick executive and coach, as much, if not more than the Knicks' current team president Donnie Walsh. With the Nets meeting with Anthony on Saturday, a league source told ESPN.com, it appears as if the Anthony trade could end up being a stare down between New Jersey owner Mikhail Prokhorov and Dolan.
"I don't feel it is my place to comment about any of this stuff," Thomas said. "I want the Knicks to do well and I definitely want Jim to do well."In a joint statement released Sunday, executive chairman James Dolan, president of basketball operations Donnie Walsh and head coach Mike D'Antoni said: "We want to make it abundantly clear that we have been in constant communication throughout this process and the three of us are in complete agreement with everything that we are currently working on. "Together, we will do what is best for the long-term success of the franchise. In addition, we want to make it clear that no one from outside our organization has been involved in this process in any way. We will have no further comment at this time."
If Thomas is pulling the strings behind the scenes with Dolan, he is telling the owner that Anthony is a proven winner, who can score with almost anyone in the league.
"He won an NCAA championship," Thomas said. "He's one or the five, six scorers in the league. His teams have always played well. He's a great player."
When asked if, in his opinion, an NBA team could win with two stars, Thomas stayed loyal to his current job.
"I'm in college now," Thomas said. "I'm trying to build a college team. I'll leave the building of an NBA team to the NBA guys."
Thomas also declined to say if he had recently spoken to Walsh. This past offseason, Dolan tried to re-hire Thomas as a consultant, but NBA commissioner David Stern eventually ruled that it would be too big a conflict for Thomas to coach a college team and be a paid consultant.
In a statement after the decision, Dolan seemed to thumb his nose at the ruling.
"Although I'm disappointed that Isiah will not be working with the Knicks as a consultant, I continue to believe in his basketball knowledge, including his ability to judge talent," Dolan said in a statement. "He's a good friend of mine and of the organization and I will continue to solicit his views. He will always have strong ties to me and the team. We wish him continued success at FIU."
Walsh reportedly was not in favor of hiring Thomas at the time. On Saturday night, across the country from Los Angeles, the South Florida arena in which Thomas worked could not have felt further from the All-Star Game. It was in an ideal hot spot, like Los Angeles, but there were 1,531 fans in the 5,000-seat arena.
Minutes before tip-off, the U.S. Century Bank was largely empty as Thomas and Florida Atlantic coach Mike Jarvis shook hands. Jarvis, the former St. John's coach, and Thomas smiled and joked a few moments, Thomas flashing that familiar wide-grin.
Thomas' team, a talented club, is a disappointing 9-17.
During the game, Thomas mostly sat and watched, only rising every once in awhile to point something out to one of his players. In the second half and OT, he became a little more animated, jumping up from his seats and occasionally raising his voice.
The FAU student section mostly heckled the FIU players, but there were a few taunts at Thomas, one referencing his failures with the Knicks.
During his postgame press conference, Thomas sounded as he did on many nights at the Garden, even if the venue looked much different. With only 12 media members listening, Thomas lamented how if he had two of his better young players for the entire season, then things might be different and if his team just made their free throws they wouldn't be in last place.Andrew Marchand is a senior writer for ESPNNewYork.