Newsday’s Greg Logan offers at long last, some insight as to why Isiah Thomas was so hellbent on trading one of his few tangible bargaining chips (Penny’s expiring contract) for another shoot-first, get-traded-later guard in the form of Steve Francis.

Although Thomas said he’s satisfied with the team as it is, several NBA executives said it’s likely Knicks shooting guard Jamal Crawford will be traded to Denver for backup point guard Earl Watson by today’s 3 p.m. NBA trade deadline. The Nuggets need a shooting guard, the Knicks need a backup point guard who doesn’t require shots, and the salaries fit NBA trade guidelines.

Thomas and coach Larry Brown put a unified, happy face on the deal for Francis, who makes $13.77 million this year and is under contract for another three seasons totaling $48.7 million. Brown went so far as to compare this deal to the one that added Earl Monroe to a backcourt that already included Walt Frazier and Dick Barnett before the Knicks won their last NBA title in 1973.

“Nobody thought Earl would fit in with the group here,” Brown recalled. Including Crawford and Quentin Richardson in the equation, Brown said the Francis-Marbury combination will reduce pressure on their teammates. “The more experience and more quality people we have in the backcourt will make their development a lot easier.”

But executives and personnel experts around the league questioned the odd coupling, said Brown was not in favor and suggested yesterday’s deal was part of a risky long-term strategy by Thomas to trade for superstar Minnesota forward Kevin Garnett (above, right) this summer.

One NBA general manager said Thomas sold Knicks owner James Dolan on a strategy to stockpile as many marketable assets as possible to make a play for Garnett, who has grown increasingly restless with the Timberwolves, who now might be ready to consider trading him.

If you think that strategy makes sense, you might be ready to believe this report from Straight Bangin’.

Readers old enough to remember the 13th episode of “The White Shadow”, “Mainstream”, might take particular interest in this story. Oh, what Coach Reeves could’ve done with a perimeter threat.

With all the negative publicity surrounding MySpace these days, it’s important to remember there are all sorts of places a kid can get into trouble on the internet.