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Coast To Coast

January 13, 2008|Mark Heisler

The Hornets' "lease extension" was actually a "get out of jail free" card after next season . . . three years earlier than the deal in place.

Despite talk of "challenging" fans, the state of Louisiana did it to get off the hook for a $25-million practice facility, resigned to losing a team few care about.

The exciting young Hornets are last in attendance and improving only slightly. Back from a 3-0 trip, they were 2,000 short of capacity against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers on Wednesday.

Nice knowing you, New Orleans . . .

Owner George Shinn can leave if attendance doesn't jump 19% to 14,375.

Suggesting the state didn't even care enough to look it over for loopholes, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported they will count tickets sold and given away. So if it's close, Shinn can just stop giving them away.

Meet the Oklahoma City SuperSonics

The impact of the Hornets' deal on the SuperSonics' future in Seattle can be summed up in two words:

Bye bye.

Having run the franchise into the ground while failing to get a new arena, owner Clay Bennett has applied to move to Oklahoma City and now it looks like the Hornets will be available three years earlier than anticipated.

Bristling at Washington state politicians, Commissioner David Stern said he won't put another team in the area. However, with Seattle suing to enforce its ironclad lease with the SuperSonics through 2012, it's time to make a deal.

Seattle drops its suit. The SuperSonics leave. A new arena goes up. Hello, Hornets!

Next patsy

The Knicks' debacle may have finally persuaded out-of-it owner James Dolan to pull the plug on Isiah Thomas, his coach and team president.

The players quit long ago when Thomas took Stephon Marbury back after he jumped the team. Friday's loss to Toronto was their fourth in a row at home, having trailed by at least 19 in each.

Suggesting he knows the end is near, Thomas said, "When you move into your house, the guy who poured the concrete never really gets a chance to live in that beautiful house that he built."

As Dolan's latest patsy, leaving will be a mercy for Thomas. The Knicks' long-running nightmare continues.

Oops (cont.)

Standoffish Minnesota Vice President Kevin McHale, widely bashed for years, is also the man who took over the Christian Laettner-J.R. Rider team and wound up in the West finals.

Starting all over, McHale now says bringing in so many young players at once was "probably" a mistake.

"You can do a lot of stuff but you cannot not compete," he said after Dallas routed the Timberwolves on their own floor. "It's professional basketball, it's not a church league. . . .

"Unfortunately, right now, I would say some guys have regressed, some have moved forward. Right now, I'd say the jury is out with a lot of guys."

Way, way out. Like on Mars.

The half family

Houston's Tracy McGrady has played as many as 72 games only once in the last five seasons and has reportedly told friends he wants to be traded.

At 28, he's being compared to his gifted, disappointing cousin, Vince Carter, once called "half man, half amazing."

Said an unidentified Pistons player to the Detroit News' Chris McCosky: "They should call Tracy, "Half man, half a season."

-- Mark Heisler

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