While the Knicks could only manage 3 field goals in the final 8:30 of last night’s 103-100 loss to the otherwise shitty Pacers, head coach / team president Isiah Thomas fared no better with his pregame remarks. Such is the assessment of Newsday’s Ken Berger, who opines “Say what you want about Thomas, about his record here as a coach and president. But it is just not right that someone of his stature in this sport, working in this supposed crown jewel of basketball, has to constantly look to P.R. minions for guidance before he opens his mouth to express his opinion.”

“Isiah, what do you think about this Shaquille O’Neal trade?”

“Umm,” Thomas said, pausing as though he’d been asked under oath if he ever injected Dennis Rodman with tattoo ink. “I think it’s, um, I guess it helps both teams. I guess Phoenix, uh . . . I would be misspeaking if I started talking about what somebody else was thinking.”

The reporter from the Indianapolis Star who used to cover Thomas when he coached the Pacers looked as though he wanted to ask when the lobotomy had been performed. (Thomas would’ve merely looked at his boss from the P.R. department and shrugged.)

So I reassured Thomas that all we wanted to know was what he was thinking.

“I think any time you get a presence like Shaq on your team, inside the locker room and out on the floor, it definitely helps,” he said.

When Thomas was asked when he will adopt the sane strategy of cost-cutting and surrender – which Memphis and Miami did in the past week by dealing Pau Gasol and O’Neal, respectively – there were only blank stares and statements that amounted to, “We’re not looking to move anybody.”

Thankfully, that is not true, according to an NBA executive who told me this week that the Knicks would trade anyone on the roster before the Feb. 21 deadline. The preferred candidates to be dealt, according to the exec, are Stephon Marbury and Zach Randolph because of, among other things, contracts that are bigger than Kareem McKenzie.