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No one has been working the phones like Isiah Thomas, who has been frantically trying to remake the Knicks roster before the February 23 trade deadline. The latest rumor is the most outrageous yet: the beleaguered Knicks GM is trying to deal the entire Knicks squad, plus TV color analyst Walt “Clyde” Frazier, and Anucha Brown Sanders, the former Knicks employee accusing Thomas of sexual harassment, to Detroit for the Pistons starting lineup of Ben Wallace, Rasheed Wallace, Richard Hamilton, Chauncey Billups, and Tayshaun Prince.


The deal would be part of an extraordinary eight-team trade that would involve 24 players, 16 future draft picks, 4 coaches, 3 General Managers, and 2 assistant trainers. As compensation for Detroit, both Thomas and former Knicks guard Allan Houston would come out of retirement to shore up the Pistons backcourt. “I can still play,” Thomas assured skeptics. “Bring it on.”


Never in the history of the NBA has an entire team been traded at once, but Thomas, defending the moves while juggling two cell phone calls and a second sexual harassment charge, reminded reporters that “I told you none of my players were untouchable. Not Stephon Marbury, not Channing Frye, not Jalen Rose, even though I just traded for him.”


In the past several weeks, Thomas boasted of having talked to almost 200 players about coming to play at Madison Square Garden. “Shaq, Kobe, Dirk, you name it, I’ve called them,” he said. “Everyone wants to play in New York, but not every team can make it happen.”


Asked why he would break up a team that is 40-8, Dumars said, “You don’t mess with a guy as desperate as Isiah. He has a plan, he’s in great shape, and I fully expect that we can keep the Pistons playing at the championship level that fans are accustomed to. We’re trading away 5 great players, but we’re getting 12 in return. We’re getting a fine TV analyst in Clyde Frazier. And we’re getting an upstanding young female executive (Sanders) who should step right into our front office.”


But news reports coming out of Detroit suggested that the Pistons were forced into the deal by NBA commissioner David Stern, who has long believed that the league needs a winning team in New York to bolster TV ratings. “If I sit through another Pistons-Spurs Finals, I’ll kill myself,” Stern was heard muttering to no one in particular.


Thomas was recently hit with a second sexual harassment charge from a Garden scoreboard operator, who claimed she was fired after bringing up the errant pass Thomas threw to Larry Bird, costing the Pistons Game 5 of the 1987 East Finals against the Celtics. “He called me a Bird-loving shrew,” said the woman, who wished to remain anonymous.


If the deal goes through, the Knicks will become almost certain favorites to at least reach the .500 mark, and perhaps even sneak into the playoffs.


“Of course I’m excited at the chance to play in New York,” said Rasheed Wallace, “even if it means being reunited with [coach Larry Brown].”


Rip Hamilton echoed his teammate’s thoughts: “It’s almost as if they scratched out the Detroit name on our jerseys and replaced it with New York.”


Predictably, Knicks players were stunned. Stephon Marbury, his head covered in white towels, left a practice session without speaking to reporters. Eddy Curry reported a recurrence of his irregular heartbeat. Only ebullient guard Nate Robinson seemed optimistic. “We’re going to the best team in the NBA,” he said, before being told who else was going to Detroit with him.


The Knicks will fill out the rest of their team with a variety of future draft picks and players to be named later, culled from eight different teams. Another rumor has Latrell Sprewell returning as the Knicks’ Director of Media Relations.


Perhaps no player was happier about the blockbuster trade than Pistons backup center “Donnie” Darko Milicic. “I finally get to play,” he said in halting English.

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