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NEW YORK — Scott Layden, say sources, is telling club executives throughout the NBA the Knicks absolutely intend to make a major trade before the Feb. 20 deadline. We know we have to do something, so make us your best offer.

A number of teams would love to call Kurt Thomas (Orlando, Memphis, etc.) and Latrell Sprewell (76ers) their very own (based on skill), and, to a lesser degree, Othella Harrington and Charlie Ward (based on salary).

Therefore, if Layden is not looking to insult the intelligence of his peers (which he is known to do), there are plenty of deals to be made and an abundance of name players to choose from.

For instance, Pau Gasol is the Grizzlies lone semi-untouchable player, while there isn’t a single one on the Hawks’ roster. Atlanta GM Pete Babcock, contrary to denials, has put out the word he will move anybody and everybody on his shopping list in hopes of reconstructing in mid-mediocrity (that must make interim coach Terry Stotts feel real secure) by dumping long-term contracts, or those about to expire in order to gain severe summer cap room. Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Jason Terry, Glenn Robinson, Theo Ratliff, are all readily available.

Matter of fact, the Sixers nearly re-acquired Ratliff a week ago in a multi-team transaction that involved Derrick Coleman, whose guarantee expires at season’s end.

Negotiations abruptly ended, I’m informed, when Philly chairman Ed Snider decided against assuming the two years (almost $24 million) remaining on the center’s contract unless Keith Van Horn’s three-year, $43 million obligation could be simultaneously unloaded; that was good news for Dikembe Mutombo who would have been compelled to move his family out of Theo’s humble abode in Philly.

Orlando and Toronto appear to be Ratliff’s most ardent suitors. The Magic are offering No. 1 draft picks galore and additional insignificance.

Mournfully, Grant Hill would be appealing to Atlanta (and others), but only if his tortured ankle requires him to apply for a medical discharge.

The Raptors, who unsuccessfully made a play for Portland’s Rasheed Wallace (Tony Davis and Hakeem), also offered Olajuwon’s official retirement papers and Lindsey Hunter for Ratliff.

Because Terry pockets so little ($2,153,934) relative to his talent and wants so much (restricted free agent-in-waiting), it’s hard to get equal value for him without including bonus components. Still, just about everybody seems to love his enthusiasm and willingness to learn the point position.

If any team has the resources to work out an equitable arrangement for Terry, it’s the Pacers, who flaunt lots of assets and have an appreciation for Shareef.

At least one powerful person also has the hots for difficult-to-deal (base year) Jason Williams and Lorenzen Wright.

Rumors about Indy coveting Gary Payton (for Al Harrington, Austin Croshere and Jamaal Tinsley) are strictly counterfeit.

Not only would it be foolish to give up Household Harrington (towering upside, giant bargain at $5 million with three more seasons on his contract after this), but it would be impossible to re-sign Payton; as it is, the prospects of re-signing Jermaine O’Neal, Brad Miller and Reggie are next to impossible without competing with the Knicks and Blazers for luxury tax dishonors.

A couple days before Cavalier coach John Lucas was vaporized, he commanded Tyrone Hill and Bimbo Coles to return to Cleveland (rather than finish the road trip in Denver) for being detrimental to the team.

Hill, angry with his limited role since Carlos Boozer’s emergence, had refused to re-enter the previous game at Golden State; his agent claims he was hurt. At any rate, says a source, Cleveland GM Jim Paxson overturned the order, insisting they had to be suspended if sent home.

As it turns out, Coles was told to take some time off to spend with his wife and newborn and Hill was placed on the injured list with a nothing ailment to keep his negativity away from the impressionable younger players. Don’t be surprised if both players are soon released.

What in the name of all that’s good and decent upon these fruited plains is going on with LeBron James, banned from Ohio’s CHSAA for taking throwback jerseys?

You think someone in his legion of leeches might have tipped him off not to accept anything other than a compliment and even that should be with two forms of ID.

If I’m LeBron, this is my air-tight alibi: All Hummers come standard with three TVs and two retros.

By all means, crucify the cagey criminal; prosecute the felon to the fullest. Of course, you realize the only person in Akron who doesn’t get hurt by this, should the exile stick, is LeBron. How long into his NBA career do you think it will take before these same investigators begin begging him for free tickets?

Personally, I would send the Ohio High School Athletic Association into Iraq; clearly they’re more qualified to dig up dirt on Saddam than the weapons inspectors.

This just in: Ron Artest offered Michael Jordan his spot on the suspended list. Segueing right along, in last week’s Indianapolis Star, Travis Best — a career understudy at the point, except when leading the Bulls and Heat to the lottery — branded Artest’s behavior disrespect to the league, for everybody.

Naturally, the beat writer who authored the slanted story accidentally failed to mention this is the same purist who refused the coach’s instructions to re-enter a Pacer game last season.

In view of recent sentences by collaborators David Stern and Stu Jackson, it seems they have no other choice but to suspend Isiah Thomas from coaching in the All-Star Game for disrespecting Morris Peterson.

Isiah has some nerve going into hysterics just because Mo interrupted his apoplectic appeal to a ref for a flagrant foul on a suspicious play, and asked him nicely to, shut up.

How bold of Jeff Van Gundy! A few nights ago on TNT, he took a revolutionary stand, saying the NBA should ban all players on sub .500 teams from participating in the All-Star Game. Damn, why didn’t I think of that when I worked for the networks?

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