One franchise is a rare case of rebuilding and contending at the same time (albiet after years of futility), the other has a payroll amongst their league’s highest while contending for nothing more than a 2006 lottery pick (which the Bulls are entitled to). Compare and contrast the following Rangers and Knicks notes ;

From the New York Post’s Larry Brooks :

While we’re on the subject of measuring sticks, allow me a Santa-sized, jelly-belly-shaking chuckle at the notion that since the Rangers have already exceeded expectations, management is now released from its obligation to improve the team if it can be done without shaking the foundation of the program.

If that’s the case, the 1969 Mets must not have gotten that memo before trading Steve Renko and three other young suspects for Donn Clendenon at the June 15 deadline, did they?

From the Post’s Marc Berman :

Larry Brown sat down with Knicks owner James Dolan (above) last Wednesday at their Westchester practice campus. The head coach met with Dolan, top Cablevision executive Hank Ratner, Garden president Steve Mills and Knicks president Isiah Thomas.

Dolan wanted to hear Brown’s thoughts on the young players and get his take on the disastrous season, which continues tonight when the 7-18 Knicks host the Atlantic Division-leading Nets.

At no point did Brown sense that Dolan was unwilling to do whatever it takes to stop the bleeding. Two league sources, however, told The Post that Dolan is almost up to his limit ” that he’s no longer willing to be Santa Claus and he’s reluctant to add much to his already league-high $119 million payroll for only a marginal boost.

While discussing Thomas’ job performance during his two years in New York, Brown let it slip that the luxury-tax issue has begun to put the brakes on reckless spending on players. “The luxury tax has changed,” Brown said. “When [former MSG president Dave] Checketts was here, we didn’t have the luxury tax.”

If Dolan is uneager to add payroll, it’s hard to blame him. Beyond the $119 million payroll, he’s on the hook for about $43 million in luxury tax ” even after a reduction from Allan Houston’s medical retirement.

Dolan is shelling out more than $9 million per year for Brown and paying a league-high six assistant coaches. He is also still paying former GM Scott Layden’s final year of salary ($6 million) and of course, Thomas’ own salary.