Knicks have no plans to fire his Hall of Fame client. 

Knicks have no plans to fire his Hall of Fame client.

This much is certain: Isiah Thomas contacted Larry Brown's agent yesterday and informed him the Knicks have no plans to fire his Hall of Fame client. What is uncertain is whether the team has left the door open for a buyout.
Joe Glass, Brown's longtime agent, revealed that the Knicks' president had called him in the late afternoon. It was the first time in over a week that the Knicks had been in contact with either Brown or his representative, and the first time since team sources told the Daily News that the Knicks are mulling buying out the final four years of Brown's contract.

"He informed me that the stories are not true," Glass said, "that Larry's the coach of the Knicks."

The language from both the Knicks and Glass is eerily similar to last season, when Brown and the Detroit Pistons were in the process of negotiating a buyout.

Team sources continue to indicate that Garden chairman James Dolan is leaning toward severing ties with Brown after one tumultuous season. In fact, regardless of what Thomas told Glass, ultimately the decision on whether to make a coaching change will be made by Dolan, who is also endorsing the idea of naming Thomas the coach.

The Knicks have not issued a public denial about the reports from sources. Those sources said part of Dolan's thinking is that Brown was too critical of the players last season. Although the Knicks previously have told Brown they would try to upgrade the roster, the concern in the organization is that they will not be able to make enough moves to satisfy Brown, and that they will have another season in which the coach publicly clashes with his players.

Brown's most infamous feud was with Stephon Marbury, one that began during the 2004 Olympics.

Yesterday, Marbury said he understands why the Knicks would be considering a coaching change. "Based on our record (23-59), that's normal for anybody to have that speculation," he told The Associated Press. Marbury also said he'd be fine with either Brown or Thomas. "I don't care if Larry Brown comes back. I wouldn't mind at all."

Glass admitted to being upset that the Knicks hadn't reached out to him since the sources told The News and other media outlets that Dolan is strongly considering buying out Brown's contact and replacing him with Thomas. The timing alone was a sensitive issue as Brown underwent a bladder operation Friday.

"Why wouldn't I be upset?" Glass said over the telephone. "Larry had an operation on Friday and all of a sudden I'm reading that he's not going to be the coach of the Knicks. Nobody from the Knicks has contacted us. Of course I'm upset."

In recent weeks, Brown has been unsuccessful in his attempts to have a meeting with Dolan. Thomas also has not been in contact with Brown.

Glass also refuted claims that Brown already is pursuing coaching jobs in Charlotte and Sacramento. According to one report, Brown's representatives have been in contact with the Bobcats.

"Unless Larry changed representation after 45 years, I don't know anything about that," Glass said. "I haven't had contact with anybody, and that includes the Knicks."

According to one source close to Brown, he is unlikely to coach anywhere next season if he does not coach the Knicks.

"At this point and time Larry is the coach of the Knicks until we are told otherwise," Glass added.

Brown was resting at his Greenwich, Conn., home yesterday and was unavailable for comment. His ongoing health problems are not expected to prevent him from coaching next season.

"He's ready, willing and able to be the coach of the Knicks," Glass said. "He wants to overcome the horrendous season they had and help turn the team around."

Brown completed the first season of a five-year, $50 million contract. Glass declined to comment on the possibility of a buyout, but from all indications, the divorce would be costly for the Knicks. People close to Brown say that if the Knicks are intent on firing him, they will have to pay him the approximately $40 million he is owed. Last season, Glass negotiated a $7 million buyout from the Pistons, even though the team owed Brown $18 million.

People familiar with Dolan's thinking claim that if he was committed to removing Brown from the sidelines, he would do whatever it takes at whatever the cost. Under Dolan's watch, the Knicks have paid off the contracts of Shandon Anderson, Don Chaney, Scott Layden and Lenny Wilkens.

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