Gar~den chairman James Dolan apparently has started the process of ending Larry Brown's dream job after one season.
According to sources, Dolan, upset over Brown's record and the coach's public criticism of his players, is considering buying out the final four years of Brown's contract, worth at least $40 million.

The Knicks declined to comment, and would neither confirm nor deny one published report that already is naming Knicks president Isiah Thomas as Brown's successor. Brown has indicated that he will not resign, but if Thomas takes over, the Knicks would avoid having to pay another coach upwards of $5 million annually.

Thomas, who coached the Pacers from 2000-2003 but never got them out of the first round of the playoffs, is said to be amenable to coaching the Knicks, one source told the Daily News.

Knicks brass has not met with Brown since the end of the 23-59 season, according to sources, perhaps another indication of Dolan's dissatisfaction with the Hall of Fame coach. According to a team official, Brown has requested a meeting with Dolan but Thomas has told Brown there is no reason for him to meet with the club's owner.

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