Knicks are bringing back Isiah Thomas as a consultant. No, it is not April 1.

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Thumbnail image for ithomas.jpgUPDATE 3:44 pm: The NBA is officially looking into this deal — where a college head coach consults with an NBA team and is considered a player “recruiter” — to see if it violates league rules.

Those league rules include that a team representative cannot have contact with college underclassmen. Which is essentially the core of Thomas’ college job. So there are some questions.

If it is ruled legal by the NBA, it is a slippery slope. What is to stop Boston from setting up a
similar deal with Roy Williams so they can get the inside scoop on North
Carolina players? Or use him to lure former Carolina players who are
free agents. Sure, that will not be part of the official job description
— it won’t be for Thomas either — but you can see the potential for
trouble.

The NCAA has signed off on the deal, according to reports.

What are the odds that Knicks ownership would push forward a deal for a friend without thinking about the legality of it? Oh, yea, pretty good.

1:49 pm: The New York Knicks are bringing Isiah Thomas back as a part time consultant to the franchise.

That sound you just heard, the screeching one that sounded like a hellmouth opening? That was Knicks fans.

He has been brought back after the Knicks suffered through two painful years on the court pulling themselves out of the hellmouth that Thomas left the team in on the court and against the cap from his term as team president. Thomas will work on a part-time as consultant and a player recruiter but not have to give up his job as head coach at Florida International University.

“Isiah Thomas brings unique experience as a Hall of Fame player, coach, executive and owner, and we believe having him as part of our organization will be extremely beneficial to the team’s success,” Dolan and Walsh said in a joint statement.

Unique. Well that’s one word for it.

“I’m excited to once again be a part of the New York Knicks organization. I was honored to have been asked to help during the recent free-agent recruiting process, and believe that this new role takes full advantage of my skill set as an evaluator of basketball talent,” Thomas said in a statement released by the team. “

Honestly, this is not that big a surprise. It should be — you should never bring back a former employee who cost you $11 million in a sexual harassment lawsuit. But it isn’t in this case.

Knicks owner James Dolan loves Thomas, they remain good friends. How do you think Thomas kept his job so long the first time? Plus remember this summer Thomas was the guy the Knicks sent to talk to LeBron’s people last minute and off the record. Thomas was specifically called out for his work in luring Amare Stoudemire to the Knicks.

If he were only to consult on the draft, this might not be a bad deal. That was the one thing Thomas always did well.

What has to be the biggest concern is this: Donnie Walsh is expected to step down in the next year or two. When he does someone like current Knicks man Allan Houston or just released Denver executive Mark Warkentien should be the next in line.

But now Thomas has his foot in the door and the ear of the owner. And that more than anything should scare the crap out of Knicks fans.

Giannis Antetokounmpo called for 10-second violation on free throw (video)

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This Giannis Antetokounmpo 10-second violation was a year in the making.

Unfortunately for the Trail Blazers, it was too little, too late. Antetokounmpo still finished with 15 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists, four blocks and two steals in the Bucks’ 115-107 win.

Iman Shumpert injures hand while missing open dunk (video)

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Plenty went right for the Cavaliers in their 126-94 win over the Knicks last night, but there were a few snags.

LeBron James and his teammates repeatedly failed the water-bottle challenge in the closing moments (though Kyrie Irving eventually nailed it).

Kevin Love‘s nose malfunctioned.

And Iman Shumpert injured his hand while missing an open dunk.

If Shumpert was faking as an excuse for missing, he sold it hard. Defending 4-on-5 on the other end, Cleveland ceded a 3-pointer. Then, Shumpert remained hunched over while the Cavs brought the ball up-court. It seems Shumpert might have been popping back in a dislocated finger, which jibes with him staying in the game – and shows his toughness.

But it also doesn’t erase the shame of hurting yourself while missing an open dunk.

Gregg Popovich calls coaching Tim Duncan-less Spurs a ‘refreshing’ and ‘fun’ challenge

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 26: Head coach Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs argues a call against the Washington Wizards at Verizon Center on November 26, 2016 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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MINNEAPOLIS (AP)–  For so many years, the San Antonio Spurs have been defined by their consistency, an unprecedented level of stability that has brought five championships and established the organization as a model franchise in professional sports.

The colors don’t change. The coach doesn’t change. The core never changed.

After 20 years and those five titles, change has finally come to San Antonio.

Tim Duncan, the tone setter from the moment he was drafted in 1997, retired last summer. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili have taken reduced roles this season, and the Spurs brought in seven new faces as part of a rare roster shuffle as they try to retool around Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge.

“It’s been at the same time a challenge and a refreshing sort of situation,” coach Gregg Popovich said. “The team is changing personnel-wise and where the ball goes and a few different players so we have to do things a little bit differently. There’s a give and take, strategy wise, to fit the group. It’s been a lot of fun. Watching some of the young guys get minutes and develop has been fun.”

Fun because while the faces have changed, the results have not. The Spurs (18-4) have navigated the bumps in the road that come with unfamiliarity and have the second-best record in the league, tied the star-studded Golden State Warriors (18-3) in the win column. They have started the season 13-0 on the road and can match last year’s Warriors for the best road start in league history with a win in Chicago on Thursday night.

It hasn’t always been pretty for these Spurs. They’re not the same ruthless, precise machine that steamrolled the league during championship runs. They have had to muddle through things, overcome mistakes and struggle while they get acclimated to one another.

Newcomers like six-time All-Star Pau Gasol, steady veteran David Lee, Argentinian point guard Nico Laprovittola and shot-blocking center Dewayne Dedmon have had to work hard to integrate into a culture that is as enduring as any.

“You could see it in our games. Sometimes our offense is stagnant, our defense isn’t moving well or in our help positions,” Leonard said. “We have a big playbook on the offensive end. It’s just hard to learn it. It was hard for me to learn it. I didn’t get it down until probably my second or third year. We’ve just got to keep giving a consistent effort and being into the game and into our playbook and just keep moving from there.”

The result has been a team that tends to start slow, fall behind and then gradually digs its heels in. They are 5-4 at home, where they only lost once all of last season. They’ve lost to the Magic at home, were thumped by the Clippers and have not recaptured the breathtaking form they showed in a 29-point win at Golden State on opening night. But the wins keep coming.

“I think the first eight to 10 games was the coaching staff trying to figure out what lineups we’re going to play and there were a lot of changes, a lot of trying what works best,” said Gasol, who signed as a free agent this summer. “But now I think there’s more consistency, there’s more defined lineups. Guys know when to come in, when they’re going to play and what’s expected of them.”

The Spurs have won 13 of their last 14 games, and Popovich has leaned on his core more than he has in years to get them off to a good start. Leonard and Aldridge both average more than 33 minutes per game, the first time San Antonio has had two players averaging that much playing time since 2008-09.

“It’s been interesting to see how the team develops and comes together and who the leaders will be without Timmy being that overriding factor for so long,” Popovich said.

Leonard, for years the ultra-quiet storm trooper of the Spurs army, has been much more vocal this season. Gasol’s personality and approach have been a perfect fit as most expected and Ginobili and Parker are still there to help filled the void left by Duncan’s retirement.

And little by little, the new guys are getting up to speed.

“They’ve done a great job of making it easy for us and for Pop to throw them into the fire and trust them to know the system,” Green said. “We’ll continue to help them and they will continue to be sponges and absorb it.”

Kyrie Irving sticks water-bottle challenge before Cavaliers-Knicks buzzer (video)

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The Cavaliers were trying the water-bottle challenge on the bench late in their 126-94 win over the Knicks last night, but the national telecast showed Cleveland players only failing to flip a water bottle and have it land upright on the floor – including an erratic attempt from LeBron James that bounced onto the court.

Thankfully, the local post-game show had an angle of Kyrie Irving nailing the bottle flip just before the game ended, his toss just leaving his hands before the final buzzer. Count it!