The Nets have started the exhibition slate with 4 consecutive losses, the latest coming with last night’s 94-90 defeat to the Celtics. That doesn’t mean, however New Jersey is in any hurry to see Jeff McInnis rejoin the club. From the Bergen Record’s Al Iannazzone.

“Not playing me is one thing, but having a personal grudge against me is another thing,” McInnis, in his first remarks since being told to stay away from the team before last season’s playoffs, said in a phone interview. “I have a family just like (coach Lawrence Frank) he’s got a family, and he knows who I’m talking about.”

“He called my phone all summer last year to get me to come there. If I don’t work out, I don’t work out. But I’ve got a family to support. He’s trying to hinder that by all this.”

“They said nobody wants me. Release me, and we’ll see.”

McInnis’ agent, Steve Kauffman, contends Frank has hurt his client’s value around the league by badmouthing him to other coaches. Kauffman also said he’s considering litigation as a last resort, a tactic McInnis seemed to endorse.

“It’s gotten antagonistic and I predict it will only get more so,” Kauffman said.

“If I have to [sit out the whole season], I will,” McInnis said. “But it ain’t going to be that simple. There are going to be other steps taken and all that.”

McInnis’ track record could make it difficult to prove slander or defamation of character.

McInnis had problems while playing with the Nuggets, Blazers, Clippers and Cavaliers, his last stop before New Jersey.

After being benched in the previous game, McInnis didn’t accompany LeBron James’ Cavaliers to Toronto for 2004-05 season finale. League sources said that had the Cavs made the playoffs, some prominent players were going to ask management to leave McInnis off of the postseason roster.

Renaldo Balkman had some nice moments against Boston on Tuesday, and perhaps forgetting that the game didn’t mean shit, Isiah Thomas has taken the opportunity to return fire on Greg Anthony, writes the Newark Star-Ledger’s David Waldstein.

“Greg Anthony should never ever be in a position to question (me) on anything about basketball,” the Hall of Fame player said, “because I do remember the kind of player he was. I’ll leave it at that.”

Anthony and the entire ESPN panel, including Jay Bilas, who called Balkman a second-round pick, ripped the selection. The next day Anthony went on satellite radio and suggested Thomas picked Balkman because he is a Leon Rose client. Rose also represents Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James. Sounds far-fetched, but what really burned Thomas was that Anthony once drew a paycheck from the Knicks.

“I thought he was very unfair to the Knicks organization,” Thomas said. “Now, it would be different had he not worn a Knicks uniform. But, for a guy who claims to be a Knick, and to treat the Knicks the way he treated us that night, I know a Piston would never do that. A Celtic would never do that. A Laker would never do that. It just (wouldn’t) happen. But it just goes to show you what we’re dealing with.”

Never go against the family, Anthony.

Of course, Anthony also used to play for the Grizzlies, SuperSonics, Trail Blazers, Bucks and Bulls, meaning he can’t criticize one-fifth of the NBA’s teams. An ESPN spokesman said yesterday that Anthony declined to respond.

The general consensus from experts on draft night was that Thomas picked him too soon, especially with Marcus Williams still available. Thomas said it’s okay for Bilas and others to criticize him, but not someone who wore a Knicks uniform.

“Now, this so-called former Knick, who on draft night, with millions of people watching, had the audacity to take me to task on a player who I’m pretty sure he had never seen before in his life,” Thomas said. “I’m just glad the rest of New York doesn’t think like Greg Anthony.”