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Money no object in New York

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Published November 28, 2004

The Knicks won't win the championship this season.

But they have captured one title.

The Knicks are the league's highest-paid team in 2004-05. Salary figures obtained by the Dallas Morning News show that owner James Dolan has handed out $101.3-million to assemble his team. The Mavericks and owner Mark Cuban are in second place, more than $11-million behind the Knicks.

The four highest-paid players on New York's payroll - Allan Houston, Stephon Marbury, Anfernee Hardaway and Tim Thomas - combine to make $59.68-million this season. That's more than 17 teams' entire roster.

Here are a few other numbers, trends and statistical oddities:

More than $1.7-billion is devoted to player salaries this season.

The NBA uses a soft cap. Very soft. Only three of the league's 30 teams are under the $43.87-million bar.

Average salary is $4.018-million.

The defending champion Pistons rank in the bottom half of the league's pay scale at No. 19. The Spurs, the team that won the title before the Pistons, rank in the bottom third at No. 24.

Chicago is paying more money ($14.9-million) to players no longer on its roster than any team in the league. Eddie Robinson ($5.05-million) and Scottie Pippen ($5-million) constitute the majority of the hit.

The big-money position is shooting guard. Eight players make more than $12.5-million this season, more than any other position.

Houston's Dikembe Mutombo earns a relatively modest salary of $4.49-million. But add the $14.27-million buyout he received from New Jersey (carried on the Nets' books this season) and his $18.7-million ranks behind only Miami's Shaquille O'Neal.

O'Neal is the highest-paid player. The $27.6-million he pulls down is more than the expansion Bobcats spend ($22.2-million) on their roster.

CARTER THREAT: Vince Carter's trying season took another bizarre turn Wednesday in Toronto when a part-time Raptors employee spotted a posting on an Internet chat room that threatened Carter: "I'm going to come down, get drunk and then I'm going to cause problems for him," the post read, according to Bob Hunter, executive vice president of the Air Canada Center.

Hunter notified the league office, and the team put two uniformed police officers at its bench and 12 extra security personnel throughout the building. "It was replicating what happened in Detroit, and we believed it was a bogus threat," he said. "But at this point, you have to take everything seriously."

LAST CALL: It was an emotional news conference in Memphis Friday when coach Hubie Brown retired at age 71 after two seasons, citing health reasons and a lack of energy. The team's president, Jerry West , who revitalized the franchise in part by hiring Brown, called it a sad day, but he would not address specific questions about his future.

The Grizzlies, who helped make Brown coach of the year last season by winning 50 games (17 by five points or fewer), started 5-7 this season and struggled with injuries. "I told them that this was a fun time, even though at times they might question that I was having fun," he said. "It was educational for them, but educational for me, about myself at this age - about what you can accomplish.

"I said last year, "You reinvented me, you brought me back, you reinvented me in what I did way back.' Because the majority of them didn't even know I coached, they just thought I was that gray-haired guy on TV who never made a mistake because he was pompous and arrogant."

DELAYED REACTION: More comments on the Pacers-Pistons brawl:

Celtics coach Doc Rivers: "You look back at guys like Jackie Robinson, who had guys spit on him, who had objects thrown at him, who couldn't go to restaurants. If anybody was ever provoked, it was him. So I don't want to hear the "provoked' thing. That's not a good excuse."

O'Neal: "I am the son of a drill sergeant. You have got to have discipline. I am the type that there are not very many words out there that are going to make me snap. Actions might make me snap, but not words."

Hawks forward Al Harrington: "With me, I just try to be creative. If a fat man says something to me, I say something about being fat. If he's bald, I say something about him being bald. I take it as being fun."

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich: "There were just as many or more fans who acted as idiots. We have more than 400 people in this league, all of whom act wonderfully while they absorb unbelievable amounts of abuse in the most personal context of any pro sport."

Information from the Philadelphia Inquirer, New York Times and Dallas Morning News was used in the report.

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