If only his team were this defensive! The New York Daily News’ Frank Isola reports on Isiah Thomas’ appearance yesterday on the Peabody Award-winning Mike Francesca and Christopher Russo Roundtable.

Isiah Thomas once again defended Stephon Marbury for calling himself the best point guard in the NBA.

“I see him as a person and player we can build around and win,” Thomas said on the WFAN Mike and the Mad Dog program. “He’s playing the best basketball he’s ever played.”

Thomas grew increasingly hostile as he defended his job performance after 13 months. Calling it a “damn good year,” Thomas said that when he was hired, the Knicks “had a foot stuck in a hole and had nowhere to go.”

Thomas’ only misleading statement – other than denying that Garden chairman James Dolan was behind the firing of Lenny Wilkens – was to claim that unlike last year the Knicks now have expiring contracts to trade. Last year, Thomas traded Antonio McDyess and Charlie Ward to get Marbury. Dikembe Mutombo, Othella Harrington and Frank Williams – all in the final years of their respective contracts – were traded to Chicago for Jamal Crawford.

The New York Post’s Marc Berman comments on Thomas leaving the country amidst the Knicks’ longest losing streak of the season.

Knicks president Isiah Thomas plans to escape the losing and the snow by heading to Europe this weekend for a 10-day sojourn to Spain and Italy ” his first European scouting trip since taking over.

Thomas probably realizes now that the first-round draft pick he is not allowed to trade under league rules could well turn out to be a lottery pick. One potential lottery pick is Spanish swingman Rudy Fernandez (above), whom Thomas plans to see. Some think 7-foot Australian Andrew Bogut could be the top pick.