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Where will Next Town Brown resurface?

by Peter Vecsey

NEW YORK — Why would even the disseminators of fabrication sense Rick Carlisle is a consequential candidate to replace Isiah Thomas as Knicks coach?

Because he replaced him as Pacers coach?

Has it ever occurred to these masters of foolishness that Carlisle was fired by fast friend Larry Bird at the end of last season with Donnie Walsh’s sanction?

Oh, I see, Carlisle did so well disciplining Indiana’s lunatic core that liked nothing better than having every play called by him, and has been so impressive chalking the chalk for ESPN that Walsh is twitching to have him confront the Knicks.

Now I get it.

Contrary to an emphatic denial by Grizzlies executive Chris Wallace, I’m told Mitch Lawrence actually (got something right for a change) is correct regarding the team’s acute interest in hiring Larry Brown to succeed Marc Iavaroni, whose contract has one guaranteed season left.

Owner Michael Heisley interviewed Brown once last May for the position. Sources say he’s so soured on his rookie head coach that he’ll be terminated regardless of whether Next Town Brown accepts.

Why would Wallace denounce the report?

I’m convinced he’s unaware of Heisley’s impending eviction notice. In fact, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Brown were offered Wallace’s GM/VP titles as well; though, I suspect, Chris would be retained (two years remaining on his deal) to attend to other duties.

Will Brown say yes?

Now that’s a different story. I doubt he’ll take it.

There’s far too much work to be done (and way too little compensation; $2 million per team, tops) for the Grizzly cubs to become moderately competitive in the Western Conference while Long Beach Larry is south of 70.

It’s imperative for him to get situated with an up-and-coming team on approach to the playoffs in the less-challenging Eastern Conference.

That brings us to the Hawks. No matter what — crash the post-season party or revisit the lottery — sources say Mike Woodson is on the verge of being vaporized.

Next Town Brown, who worked with him on the sidelines of Philadelphia and Detroit, is on standby.

Of course, if the eighth-place Hawks make the playoffs and advance a round how, in good conscience, could Woodson be expelled?

Hey, Carlisle (Pistons) and Doug Collins (Bulls) got axed after making the conference finals, and Brown was one season removed from a title in Detroit when he got his walking papers.

Splits happen!

Reports naming Brown as an authentic candidate for the Bulls job should interim Jim Boylan not be considered for a promotion, are entirely incorrect, it says here.

I also have it on unfailing authority former Bulls coach Scott Skiles is the second option as Memphis coach.

A Milwaukee hall monitor reveals accomplished executive Rick Sund (Dallas, Detroit, Seattle) is the leading entrant for the Bucks’ GM vacancy.

Tommy Sheppard (Wizards), Dennis Lindsey (Spurs) and David Griffin (Suns) also are in the mix.

Doug Collins turned down the opportunity to coach and run the front office at $5 million per year. He also rejected a $4 million offer to do one or the other.

* * * * *

THE NEW YORK Daily News broke the news Shaquille O’Neal intends to be back with the Suns next season, as opposed to retiring and forfeiting his $20 million salary.

The NBA Report has learned exclusively, barring a career-ending injury, O’Neal plans to play the following season as well and collect all $40 million remaining on his pact.

How’s this for curious timing . . . according to reports, Michael Jordan appears to be disenchanted with Sam Vincent? Allegedly, the Bobcats rookie coach has alienated the majority of players.

Then how do you explain the team’s just-concluded 3-1 West Coast road trip, its most successful in team history?

“The players had a meeting and said, ‘Bleep the coach, let’s win for ourselves.’ “

Hey, whatever works.

* * * * *

THE LAKERS, hosting the Wizards on Sunday night, had lost three consecutive games (Warriors, Bobcats, Grizzlies) at the Staples Center, allowing 115, 108 and 114 points, respectively.

In between, L.A. won at Oakland despite giving up 119.

Far be it from me to suggest the Purple Fein is porous, but Barack Obama had a better defense when it came to his preacher.

Peter Vecsey covers the NBA for the New York Post.