With Jamal Crawford done for the year and Nate Robinson ailing with the flu, Newsday’s Alan Hahn suggests a fabulous addition to the active Knicks roster.

James Dolan has already ordered Isiah Thomas to handle the dual role of team president and coach. Why not add a third responsibility: backup point guard?

How bad could it be? Thomas turns 46 in April, but he looks to still be in good shape (much better than his former backcourt mate, Joe Dumars). Couldn’t he give him a little something off the bench?

How bad could it be? Thomas turns 46 in April, but he looks to still be in good shape (much better than his former backcourt mate, Joe Dumars). Couldn’t he give him a little something off the bench?

“I could give you 10 really good . . . (pause) . . . seconds,” Thomas said.

I sincerely hope Zeke had a better line for Anucha Browne Sanders.

The New York Times’ Harvey Araton
reminds us that Don Nelson walked away from the Knicks’ coaching job in March ’96 after leading New York to a 34-25 record. Nellie butted heads with Patrick Ewing and soon made way for the era of the Jeff Van Gundy Soundbyte, but Araton remains impressed with Nellie’s role in the Association’s international expansion.

Gregg Popovich, coach of the internationally flavored and three-time champion Spurs, tells of how, on a late 1980s trip to Germany to take his first close look at the European game, he spotted one familiar American face in the arena. It was Nelson, in front of the pack, ahead of his time.

œIt was actually my son, Donny, who was the pioneer, Nelson said. œHe was traveling all over the world, playing amateur ball. He called me from Russia one day and said, ˜You™ve got to see some of these guys.™ I went over and was amazed by the way they played, especially the ability of the big men to pass and shoot like the guards.

That the signature draft pick of Nelson™s long career would be a German was a coincidence. That he was astute enough to land Dirk Nowitzki, the best foreign N.B.A. player to date, was not.

Nelson, the coach who wasn™t urbane enough for Celebrity Row, went to Dallas and in four years turned one of the league™s perennial losers into a 60-victory team. He drafted Nowitzki, traded for Steve Nash when Nash was a backup in Phoenix to Jason Kidd and developed both.

Here we are, all these years after being told by the Knicks that Nelson was a has-been in his mid-50s, and his guys, Nowitzki and Nash, are the essential players on the teams (Dallas and Phoenix) with the league™s best records, with Nowitzki the leading contender to replace Nash as most valuable player.

Just for the record, Nelson reminds us that he also drafted Josh Howard, a rising co-star for Nowitzki in Dallas, with the 29th pick in the first round. By comparison, how many All-Stars have the Knicks developed since, well, Ewing was won in a lottery in 1985?

Fair point, though Araton fails to note that Nelson — who really looked like he was ready for a long hospital stay at the end of his Knicks tenure — is already showing signs of cracking after less than a year on the job in Oakland.

While castigating the Knicks for allowing Jamal Crawford to toil on a bum ankle (“someone has to question how Jamal Crawford was allowed to play for a couple of weeks on a tender ankle that developed into a season-ending stress fracture. I was under the impression the team’s medical specialists had been imported by Isiah Thomas expressly to identify such danger signs and shut down a player before his situation got unmanageable.”), the New York Post’s Peter Vescey goes all Smoking Gun on us at the end of his Friday column.

Bobby Brown paid $19,000 in back child support and court fees, then was freed after three nights in a Massachusetts jail. Brown was released in the custody of Ralph Sampson.

Though Vescey has yet to attack Seattle’s medical staff, it appears as though Ray Allen’s 2006-07 campaign is coming to an early, ankle-related end as well.

I’m not a big fan of Grey Blackwell’s cartoons, but I liked the last few seconds of this one.