Stephon Marbury was told to come into training camp in the best shape of his life. And by all accounts, he’s done that. Marbury was also assured that there would be a clean slate and he would have the opportunity to play this season. But in New York’s season opening win against the Heat, Marbury received the dreaded DNP-CD.
After the game coach Mike D’Antoni commented on his decision:
“There’s just certain guys I want to see . . . it’s a delicate situation,” he said. “Steph’s been great, it hasn’t been his fault . . . but the team goes on two different tracks: One is for the future and one is to try to win now.
“We’ve got to know certain things as we go forward, we’re trying to build a team, and this is not this year, it’s a two- to three-year project,” D’Antoni added. “I don’t want to get started next year, I want to get started right now.”
I understand D’Antoni’s reasoning. The Knicks aren’t concerned with winning now, they’re building for the future. But if that’s the case, why wasn’t Marbury’s contract bought out before the season began? And why did Marbury receive consistent minutes during the preaseason?
D’Antoni also addressed the prospect of “showcasing” Marbury in order to increase his trade value.
“That really screws you up . . . that’s tough,” D’Antoni said. “I know that’s how it should be talked about and it’s kind of the business, but you know what, a lot of fans come in and they want to watch the Knicks play . . . You know, I’m sensitive to that . . . In the back of my mind, I want to win every game, go deep in the playoffs and win a championship. So it’s tough to play games, it’s tough to play the political games.”
Whether Marbury is showcased or not, the political game has already begun in New York. I hate it when politics interfere with playing time. I’m a firm believer that the best players should play. And Marbury has been one of New York’s best players during the preseason.
Is Mardy Collins — a Knicks guard who received 10 minutes of PT against MIami — any more a part of New York’s long-term future than Marbury? This is Collins’ third season with the Knicks and he sports career averages of 3.8 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 1.7 assists.
Steve Adamek of The Record thinks the Knicks may be attempting to play “hardball” with Marbury.
“For those of you who haven’t figured out why the Knicks won’t set Stephon Marbury free and didn’t cut Jerome James loose to keep Patrick Ewing Jr. around, here’s one reason why:
Steph says he won’t take a dime less than the $21.9 million he’s owed to go away via a buyout. The Knicks say, fine, you can stay, but you won’t play until we’re good and ready to let you _ and we may not ever let you.
So if you want to play some place else this season, take less. Bottom line, he could probably make up the difference (and then some) with whomever he signs.”
I’m not a Stephon Marbury fan. But if Adamek is right, I must say that I’m disappointed in the new Knicks regime. I’m not defending Marbury. The guy has had his chances. But don’t tell him you’re going to give him an opportunity to play and then try and humiliate him into accepting a buyout. It’s easy to make fun of Marbury for claiming he’s “running in the mountains in LA” in the offseason, but this is also a guy who — under the tutelage of his three older brothers — was running the steps of his 14-story building as a young child. Marbury’s entire life has been dedicated to making it to the NBA. Marbury may not have earned the $20,840,625 that he’s due this season, but he did earn the contract the Knicks signed him to. And if the Knicks don’t want to play him, than he deserves opportunity to catch on with another team, but not before the Knicks pay him every penny that he’s owed.