It was suggested in this space yesterday the Knicks’ LeBron-motivated salary dump of Jamal Crawford and Zach Randolph left the current New York squad at a competitive disadvantage. That short term forecast wasn’t even taking into account Tim Thomas, Cutino Mobley and Al Harrington all being unavailable for last night’s 104-87 loss at Milwaukee. If you thought the spectre of dressing a mere 7 players would be enough to coax coach Mike D’Antoni into finally giving Stephon Marbury serious playing time, you were right. Trouble is, the NBA’s former no. 1 point guard (self-proclaimed) was reportedly in no mood to change his current (no-show) job description. From the New York Daily News’ Frank Isola :
“I’m going to tell you the truth, and this is it,” said a visibly upset D’Antoni. “This is the last time I’m answering this question. Obviously at the start of the season I told him the direction we were going and I didn’t have minutes for him. I didn’t want to embarrass him with spot minutes. It was both of our decision that he goes on the inactive (list). Instead of sitting at the end of the bench playing spot minutes he wanted to go on the inactive. I agreed with him. I did not want to embarrass him.” D’Antoni added that once Crawford was traded, he told Marbury, “There are 30, 35 minutes out there and they are yours if you want them. He said the team is going in a different direction. He wasn’t comfortable with the situation and he did not want to play. I said, ‘Okay, that’s your decision and that’s fine.’ That’s the story. Write it any way you want to.”
Marbury, however, denied D’Antoni’s version of Friday’s events. Following the Knicks’ third straight loss, Marbury said: “The only thing I’m at liberty to say is that I was told they are moving forward and I wasn’t in the plans. I’m not the person who chooses who plays and doesn’t.”
It was an odd sight as the Knicks’ bench included four coaches and three players. Even the traveling beat writers outnumbered the Knicks reserves, five to three. In the fourth quarter, the crowd began chanting, “Mar-berry, Mar-berry.”
“It could have been a chance for Marbury to showcase himself for other teams and, perhaps, prove Mike D’Antoni wrong for benching him all this time” wrote Newsday’s Alan Hahn, a reasonable enough observation. Regardless of how humiliating Steph must consider his treatment at the hands of D’Antoni and Walsh, the above tale has to give other teams pause…yet it might give the Knicks an outside chance of getting out from under Marbury’s monster paycheck. Until now, we’ve been reminded more than once that Marbury’s “done everything that’s been asked of him”. Refusing to play when the roster’s this depleted, however, isn’t merely selfish, it might be grounds for voiding a contract.