Showing the sort of initiative he demonstrated when he chewed on ‘Zo’s leg almost asked out Jodie Foster, Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy proposes a bold way to uh, prevent Doc Rivers from throwing any more games. From the Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen.

Weeks before accusations could begin that teams were tanking games to improve their chances of landing either of the season’s celebrated college prodigies, Greg Oden and Kevin Durant, Van Gundy offered a solution. Make the entire first round a lottery. One through 30. Put every name in a hat and let luck determine the draft order.

That would help the ratings of the draft lottery show. The NBA could get Howie Mandel, 30 models and briefcases and draw better ratings than the Stanley Cup finals.

“I think every team should have an equal chance at winning the lottery, from the best team all the way down,” Van Gundy said. “I don’t want to accuse anyone of anything. I would say to take away any possible conflict of interest, everyone should have an equal chance at the top pick all the way down. That way there would be absolutely no question by anybody about anything.

“If it’s better for the game, they should do it. I never quite understood why losing is rewarded, other than (for) parity.”

Last week, weeks after Van Gundy’s suggestion, Boston coach Doc Rivers did not play Paul Pierce and Al Jefferson in the fourth quarter of a loss and questions immediately arose that he was beginning a late-season dive for lottery position.

“I was not tanking the game,” Rivers said after it appeared he was. “I was not throwing the game or anything like that.”

But that should not even need to be answered. And with players going out with injuries, fans should not have to ask if players are hurt, or helping their teams lose. The Bucks are loaded with season-ending injuries that some will suggest would not have been season-ending had Milwaukee had reason to win. Ray Allen could be ready to shut it down in Seattle. Pierce has begun talking about calling it a season in Boston.

There will be more incidences to raise suspicions, though few could match the Timberwolves last season having Mark Madsen launching 3-pointers in an effort to improve draft position or stress-test the rims.

Of course, it is easier for Van Gundy to make his proposal with his team having won a weighted lottery, moving up from fifth to first to get Yao Ming. He works in an arena with a pair of championship trophies won a decade after the Rockets successfully tanked to the top pick, Hakeem Olajuwon.

Much as I love Jeff’s idea, why do I get the feeling Isiah Thomas still would’ve taken Renaldo Balkman if the Knicks had the no. 1 overall pick?

While the New York Daily News’ Frank Isola claims the Knicks were ready to buy Steve Francis out of his contract before Jamal Crawford’s season-ending injury, the PG tells The Journal News’ Mike Dougherty, “I don™t know what to do to get back on the basketball court. I can™t really put my finger on it.

“How about contribute?”, sneers Dougherty.

Don™t you feel sorry for Steve Francis?

The former All-Star only got 12 minutes in a stinging loss to the Orlando Magic last night. He launched four shots and missed them all, finishing with one measly point.

œIt™s hard, man, Francis said in the locker room afterward. œIt™s definitely hard being a veteran going from last week playing 44 minutes to this week playing 2 minutes.

Francis probably deserves credit for coming back with one healthy leg and helping the Knicks postpone the inevitable. Despite the injuries, they did get a chance to play in some meaningful games.

It sounds like the alleged buyout offer is coming making a comeback.

Knicks coach Isiah Thomas started Mardy Collins in the second half Monday against Orlando, and stuck with the rookie down the stretch.

œI liked the way Mardy was playing, he said. œHe had a good game going, and I thought he would give me more.

Francis questioned the lack of playing time last week in Cleveland, as well. Maybe this was payback. Either way, bickering isn™t going to stop the Knicks from sliding right off the playoff map.

While there’s been no shortage of speculation surrounding Florida’s Billy Donovan and the Kentucky vacancy, this item from Florida Today’s Peter Kerasotis is the first hint I’ve seen of Donovan replacing Doc Rivers in Boston. Of course, the Celtics could always hire Dickey Barrett and see if anyone could tell the difference.