There were few glimpses of him during the Knicks’ preseason games, so I’ve got to ask ; just how out of shape was Jalen Rose if Isiah Thomas would sooner pay him $15 million + to play for someone else than have him poisoning the atmosphere? Is Rose that toxic a character or do the Knicks have way more depth than their 23 wins last year would indicate?

On the matter of being paid a tremendous sum of money to stay away from MSG, the Knicks and Larry Brown have resolved their longstanding dispute, and now we can return to the important task of monitoring the Isiah Thomas Death Watch.

The New York Times’ Richard Sandomir
surveys ESPN and TNT’s all-star yack arsenals, with the NBA season set to commence this evening.

Mike Breen™s new partner at ABC will be Mark Jackson, the former Knicks point guard, who is the YES Network analyst for Nets games and also co-analyst on ABC™s pregame N.B.A. program. Jackson last year demonstrated a knack for describing the flow of a game that is not often heard so early in a career. Brown will stay at ABC as its No. 2 analyst (with Mike Tirico) and is ESPN™s top analyst (with Breen, MSG Network™s voice of the Knicks).

œI don™t see it as Mark replacing Hubie, Williamson said by telephone. œBreen and Jackson have a relationship from Mike covering the Knicks.

During an appearance at the N.B.A. store in Midtown Manhattan yesterday to herald the start of the 2006-7 season, Breen said, œI worked with Mark a few years ago; we were surprised at how things clicked right away. In a coincidence of TV timing, Breen will work nationally with Jackson, while on a local basis, Marv Albert, whom Breen replaced at MSG, calls Nets games with Jackson on SNY.

Reflecting on the difference between TNT™s stability and the changes at ESPN and ABC, TNT™s Charles Barkley said: œI™m not sure what they™re doing. It can™t be good to have different people all the time.

Kenny Smith made a foray beyond TNT last season as Walt Frazier™s substitute analyst for Knicks games on MSG. He will reprise that role 18 times this season. He said he enjoyed being around for the Knicks™ 23-59 debacle under Larry Brown.

œI must like misery, Smith said. He said he had told Isiah Thomas, the general manager who earlier this year replaced Brown as coach, that he should have been coaching the team from the start.

œI understood what he was trying to do, Smith said. œHe really believes Steve Francis and Stephon Marbury can play a Phoenix-type game.

Barkley said, œAre you kidding me?

Smith added: œHe™s good at evaluating talent. But putting a team together is different.

Later, at the N.B.A. store, Smith said of the Knicks: œTwenty-three wins was more than they deserved. I think they should have won 16 or 17.

Barkley said, œThen they should have made Larry Brown coach of the year.