"Pat Riley believed he was going to be released from his
obligations as Knicks coach in exchange for silence about his
coaching plans" during the final stages of ITT's purchase of the
Garden, according to this morning's N.Y. TIMES.  Mike Wise
reports "that was the reason" Riley began to negotiate with the
Heat before he resigned as Knicks coach in June.  According to
two people "familiar with the case," MSG President Dave Checketts
"did not want ITT to know the Knicks might lose Riley, fearing
that such a revelation might affect the company's $1.01 billion
dollar purchase. ...In return, Checketts would allow Riley out of
the final year of his contract after the sale was consummated."
However, when Riley asked to be released after the season, the
team refused, sources say.  The sale of MSG's holdings from
Viacom to an ITT-Cablevision partnership became official March
13.  A Knicks official tells the TIMES that "Checketts had told
Riley to 'not make noise about possibly leaving' while the
purchase was still in progress."  However, that source adds that
"no promises" were made to Riley regarding a release.  NBA
Commissioner David Stern is expected to rule today on charges by
the Knicks that the Heat tampered with Riley (N.Y. TIMES, 9/1).
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