David Falk, Patrick Ewing's agent, was asked when the Knicks were going to get Ewing's contract renegotiated, and Falk said, "They're not. They're going to lose him."

That left open the possibility the Knicks will deal Ewing before confrontation time, even though the suggestion violates one of the most basic NBA rules: Never trade a franchise center.

Falk has given every indication he doesn't want Ewing in New York. Ewing's current contract allows him to sign a one-year deal for 125 percent of his current salary, which means he can make about $5.3 million in 1991-92. After next season, he can become an unrestricted free agent and leave the Knicks, who would receive nothing.

Obviously the Knicks could not get a center as good. But the final four teams in last year's playoffs -- Detroit, Portland, Chicago, Phoenix -- did not have great centers. All had great guards. So the first priority could be a point guard, preferably from a team in the Western Conference, not one in the East with which Ewing would come back to haunt the Knicks five or six times a season.

Newsday, the New York newspaper stirring the pot on the subject, suggests an ideal acquisition in a multiplayer deal might be G Tim Hardaway of the Warriors.


Clippers C Benoit Benjamin had 20 rebounds in the 109-107 loss at Boston on Friday and has 92 in his last five games. . . . C Bill Laimbeer became the Pistons' all-time rebounder with 8,070, collecting 11 against Portland on Friday to surpass Bob Lanier's 8,063.