NEW YORK — Mark Jackson is at the top of new Minnesota Timberwolves president of basketball operations David Kahn’s interview list along with Mike Fratello (unsuccessfully pestered the 76ers and Kings for a meet) and Sam Mitchell . . . The two enjoyed a solid relationship when the recently hired Timberwolves president was Pacers assistant GM under Donnie Walsh.
Then again, I thought Kahn and I were boys when we worked at NBC-TV and he still hasn’t told me he even applied for the Minnesota opening.
While on the subject of ex-Knicks, Patrick Ewing’s highlight of the NBA Finals was not getting suspended for leaving the Magic bench and going onto the court as a peacemaker during the mini-flareup between Trevor Ariza and Hedo Turkoglu.
Meanwhile, Charles Oakley is under consideration by Walsh to help big men get down and dirty at the defensive end.
Does that mean the Knicks president is unhappy with how easy and how often opponents scored last season?
My second question is how do you teach bringing intimidation and intensity to work every time you get on the court?
Oakley also was contacted by Portland officials who suspect it might be good for the team’s health if a trace of his brutish attitude rubbed off on Greg Oden.
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Don’t believe one word of a report claiming the Wizards and Cavaliers discussed an Antawn Jamison for Ben Wallace and Sasha Pavlovic swap.
Yeah, that makes sense, give up a 23-point, 10-rebound-a-game All-Star for a retread and a reject.
Ernie Grunfeld wouldn’t have made that that trade the first day he arrived in America from Romania.
Are the Suns considering exchanging Shaquille O’Neal for the Cavs’ unwanted goods?
Depends on how strapped owner Robert Sarver is for cash. He improved his position recently by selling a small piece of the team to a current investor.
At last February’s trading deadline, the Cavs turned down Shaq ($21 million) for Pavlovic and Wally Szczerbiak’s expiring ($13.775 million) contract.
The Cavs must upgrade offensively in the low docks. More importantly, owner Dan Gilbert must continue to do everything imaginable (Cleveland’s payroll was $91 million this season, No. 2 to the Knicks) to prove to LeBron James he’s all about chasing down a championship. That means surrounding him with bigger, taller and more potent pieces than Mo Williams and Delonte West.
Unless Wallace ($14 million) agrees to a buyout and retires after being traded to the Suns (or any other team) the most Sarver can save on that transaction is $3.6 million doubled (they’re over the luxury tax) since Pavlovic’ $4,946,500 salary is only guaranteed for $1.5 million.
If I’m Gilbert, I operate under the presumption LeBron’s leaving if we don’t win it all next season. I’ll tell myself he’ll leave out of frustration (seven years and no ring).
Options to enhance the Cavs are unappetizing: No Memphis looking to bequeath a Pau Gasol. Rasheed Wallace will be 35 in September. Obtaining Shaq is a tired idea.
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An ESPN report that the Hawks are trying to trade Josh Smith is sheer fabrication. He’s often a knucklehead but he’s not being shopped. Furthermore, his base year salary makes it almost impossible to get equal value.
So far, the Pistons, whose salary cap room this off-season is larger than any other team exempting the Thunder but offer the prospects of a far more competitive atmosphere, are said to have prioritized free agents Carlos Boozer, Ben Gordon, Turkoglu and Ariza.
While the Raptors’ intention is to keep Chris Bosh, who is not remotely being marketed, but he can be had for a serious offer — prime time player, another starter, a No. 1 pick and cash. Sources say there has yet to be a single concrete proposal that comes close to blowing anybody that matters (Bryan Colangelo) away.
Gene Banks, who raised two young daughters (now college age) after their mother died, made a big impression (“strong presence”) on Washington’s hierarchy after a 3-day tryout working out some of its players.
Looks like the former Bulls and Duke forward will be hired as a fourth assistant . . . barely beating out Kevin McHale, who oversaw the Minnesota’s descent into the Land of 10,000 Losses and was disowned at long last after a 15-year association.
Following two or three conferences at the mound, McHale says Kahn made him an offer he couldn’t accept . . . none.
Last word on the NBA’s two greatest coaches: Red Auerbach is akin to an architect. Phil Jackson is akin to an interior decorator.
Peter Vecsey covers the NBAfor the New York Post.