With the likes of Kiki Vandeweghe, Jerry Colangelo and Jerry West routinely cited as potential replacements for Isiah Thomas as Knicks team president, the New York Times’ Harvey Araton wonders why Buck Williams is selling building supplies.

After grabbing the last of his 13,958 combined regular-season and playoff rebounds, he told reporters he was tired of the grind, of the road. He couldn™t see himself in the conventional post-playing position of assistant coach. Management, he said, was his clear-eyed ambition.

So where has he been? Why has he spent the last 10 years nurturing and selling an information technology company, coaching his son™s A.A.U. basketball team, dealing not in salary caps but construction supplies?

œI™ve tried to get the word out to the powers that be, Williams said Monday. œYou know how it is, all about access.

Williams later said he believed his four-year run across the bargaining table from management as president of the players union would have counted for something, conveyed the message that he was serious about the business of basketball. He hoped that his reputation as a team-chemistry enhancer would by now have earned him an administrative look.

The gnawing if not confounding question remains: what exactly are they looking for?

More the diplomat but not lacking a subtle prosecutorial methodology, Williams said: œI™m not one to automatically say that race plays a part. But I look back and sometimes I have to wonder. I have to shake my head. A lot of the guys in the front-office jobs have paid their dues, but someone had to give them a chance.

the one observation Williams was willing to make about Thomas™s Knicks run was his surrendering to an old New York stereotype, chasing splashy players at the expense of establishing a foundation of team character. Williams, an ardent admirer of Tim Duncan and the defending champion Spurs, laughed off the notion that celebrity-laden New York first and foremost demands more star power.

œI say you win in New York first, and the media there will create it for you, he said.