Knicks F Larry Johnson is feeling improvement in his sprained right knee, but he wouldn't say yesterday whether he'll play in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

"It's still going to be a game-time decision," Johnson said. "It feels better than it did yesterday. That's my positive sign."

The Knicks face the Spurs in the best-of-seven championship series starting tonight.

Johnson was injured against the Pacers on Friday. Johnson was taken to a hospital, and the Knicks went on to win the game and the Eastern Conference finals that night.

"It's tough," Johnson said, referring to the possibility of being sidelined for the NBA Finals.

"Even when I do come back, a bulky brace. Five, six days off, out of rhythm, a little bit out of shape. Tough. But this is the Finals. There's no excuses, no lowering your head," he said.

Johnson plans to test the knee during today's morning shoot-around.

SMITS TO RETIRE?: Rik Smits, the Pacers center the past 11 years, is quoted in a Dutch newspaper as saying he might consider retirement because of the constant pain in his feet. "For the first time, I really didn't enjoy playing this season," Smits said in Monday's editions of the daily De Volkskrant.

The 7-foot-4 Smits, a native of Eindhoven, Holland, has played on sore feet for several seasons.

SENTENCED: Former NBA player Greg "Cadillac" Anderson was sentenced to five months in a Houston jail for participating in a cocaine deal. Anderson broke into tears after he was sentenced Monday in federal court in Biloxi, Miss.

DUMARS HIRED: The Pistons hired recently retired G Joe Dumars as vice president of player personnel.