By Jerald LeVon Hoover
Updated: December 13, 2004

Nazr Mohammed
Nazr Mohammed

NEW YORK – In what may very well turn out to be the best thing that came out of the Tim Thomas for Keith Van Horn trade last season, center Nazr Mohammed, word is now that he may be on the trading block for none other than the grounded Vince Carter of the Toronto Raptors.

I wouldn’t dare suggest that Mohammed and Carter are on the same level as far as NBA talent is concerned, but Mohammed is an emerging 6 foot 10, 250 pound stud and he is growing by leaps and bounds as a center in the East. He rebounds like Pac Man, especially getting garbage baskets or put backs on the offensive end.

He works hard on defense and he’s willing to learn. The Knicks never have complained about his work ethic as he’s usually the first one into practice and the last one to leave. Also the terrific thing about Mohammed is at 27 years of age, there is still an upside to him so you can look for him to get much better. Case in point, over the last 10 games, Mohammed is averaging 15 points and 11 rebounds with including four on the offensive end.

Carter on the other hand is injury prone (at press time, he is on the injured list and has to miss a minimum of five games) and has been this way for the pass few seasons.

Is he still explosive? Yes, but for how much longer? Probably not much longer as his 6 foot 6 inch, 220 pound frame seems to be withering under the extended NBA grind.

Carter who turns 28 in January desperately wants out of Toronto. He wants to play at Madison Square Garden for Isiah Thomas and the New York Knicks. Over the summer he went so far as to tell Toronto Raptor management how he felt.

Does Isiah want him? Well, is Snow the color of white? The answer is absolutely yes. But at what cost do you trade for such a declining star? Perhaps if the Raptors would be willing to take small forward Tim Thomas, he of 22 minutes and zero rebounds against the Denver Nuggets which was preceded by 24 minutes and one rebound.

What’s so alarming about those stats on Tim is that against the Nuggets, diminutive point guard Earl Boykins, all 5 foot 3 inches of him had four rebounds. Tim is 6 foot 10 inches and 240 pounds. But, against the Wizards, reserve forward Trezor Ariza played only four minutes and he had two rebounds.

Now if Isiah can pull off a trade for Tim Thomas and Penny Hardaway (currently on the injured list with a partially torn hamstring) for Carter and possibly Jalen Rose, thus saving the Raptors some 48 million dollars in player salaries then I’d say think a lot harder on that one as opposed to trying to sweeten the pot with Mohammed and or Jamal Crawford.

But at some point also, Isiah has got to learn to just dance with whom he brung and not always look to tinker with the roster. Player cohesion is very important in NBA. So is having your player’s being someone comfortable in their surroundings.

Comfortable, but not so lacked that they feel as though, ‘they’ve made it’ and thus gives you lack luster effort. We in New York know very well what happens with players that don’t come up to Isiah’s high standards. Their zip codes change.

GAME NOTES: The Knicks beat the Denver Nuggets 107- 96 Sunday. They’re now 10-10, a mark that Isiah Thomas said he would be satisfied with at this point of the season. They are also still in first place in the Atlantic Division. Kurt Thomas had a monster game on the boards with a season high, 18 rebounds. Jamal Crawford continued his explosive play while leading all scores with 31 points, including 17 in the 3rd quarter. Allan Houston made his home debut contributing with 9 points. He entered the game at the tail end of the 1st quarter and received a very warm ovation from the sellout crowd.