Perhaps a full four years at the University Of Michigan are required before a player can keep track of how many time outs are left. In any event, the free-falling Knicks appear ready to give up on the erratic Jamal Crawford writes Newday’s Greg Logan.

Crawford was mentioned as part of a proposed three-way deal with Orlando and Denver in which he would have gone to the Magic, who would have sent Steve Francis to the Nuggets. Denver was going to send backup point guard Earl Watson and Bryon Russell to the Knicks and injured forward Nene and Voshon Lenard to the Magic. The Nuggets also would have gotten Trevor Ariza from the Knicks.

he deal died because Francis’ salary next season would have put the Nuggets in danger of paying luxury tax and because Orlando couldn’t be sure how Nene would come back from knee surgery. But that doesn’t mean the Knicks don’t still want Watson.

Brown recently listed backup point guard as a priority, and a deal with Crawford going to the Nuggets for Watson would work under salary-cap rules. If Ariza were included, the Knicks also would have to take back the expiring contract of Russell. Crawford would fill the Nuggets’ need for a shooting guard without costing nearly as much as Francis.

Adds the Post’s Marc Berman,,

Larry Brown has stepped up his talk about the need for a shot-blocker, but if the Knicks were to obtain Theo Ratliff, team president Isiah Thomas would be making a clear admission that he made a mistake by giving James a $30 million contract.

The Blazers are interested in any expiring contracts, but were said to be hotter for the departed Antonio Davis than they are for Penny Hardaway. A Portland source said the Blazers aren’t as anxious about dealing Ratliff now that they’ve won 7-of-11 games.