Marbury: A Tale Of Two People

Imagine this scenario: Donnie Walsh and Mike D’Antoni inherit the Knicks and look over the roster. Walsh decides to rebuild around the core of youngster the Knicks have and use New York’s marquee status to aim for a big free agent in 2010.

At point guard Walsh has the incumbent Stephon Marbury. The key acquisition of the Isiah Thomas era, Stephon is scheduled to earn $21M in the last year of his deal. Marbury, an older overpaid guard, doesn’t fit in with the Knicks long term plans of youth & fiscal responsibility. In fact the team is looking to dump many of their long term deals. So the Knicks sign Chris Duhon as a stop gap point guard for the next two season, and in turn make Marbury a lame duck player.

With no need for him, Walsh attempts to buy out Stephon, but Marbury is uncooperative and won’t accept anything less than his full salary. So with no other options, the Knicks try to find a spot in the rotation for Marbury. However they’re already set with their starters (Duhon and Crawford), and D’Antoni finds his skills to overlap Crawford’s (a shoot happy guard who didn’t play defense and worked better with the ball than away from it). The Knicks coach preferred to have more diversity with his rotation (Duhon – distributor, Crawford – scorer, Robinson – energy scorer, Collins – defender). D’Antoni informs Marbury of the decision to keep him out of the rotation. He gives Stephon the option to play spot minutes and the guard declines.

The team is content to keep Marbury on the bench until a spot opens up due to injury or trade. However at the Knicks home opener, a group of fans cheer “We Want Steph” (which results in a string of expletives from Mike D’Antoni). Sensing a media fiasco if the fans continue to call for Marbury, D’Antoni & Walsh agree to keep him inactive to take away the option of inserting Stephon into a game.

Fast forward to Friday’s game. With the team trading two guards from their rotation, the team tells Marbury that there’s a place in the rotation with major minutes for him. They offer 30+ minutes to Stephon, but the guard refuses to play.

The above story is fiction, because I have no access to Mike D’Antoni, Donnie Walsh, or Stephon Marbury’s thoughts. However many of the facts are true. D’Antoni was quoted as saying “I did not want to embarrass [Marbury] by spot minutes. We talked about it, and it was both our decision that he go on inactive.” According to the New York Post, D’Antoni told Stephon that “[Jamal Crawford] is gone … there’s 30-35 minutes out there that’s yours if you want them.” Even if you reject the fictional aspect of the above account, using the facts that I based the story on there’s only one logical conclusion: Stephon Marbury’s ego prevented him from rejoining the team.

I’d like to think of myself as a person that will listen to both sides of an argument, but I can’t imagine any scenario that would justify Marbury’s actions. This could have been a marriage of opportunity. The team lost two guards yesterday, so there are plenty of minutes to go around even with the arrival of Mobley. Last night Marbury could have asserted himself as the starting SG for the rest of the season. But on Friday night when the team clearly needed him, Stephon chose himself. He left his teammates to suffer a 17 point loss to a Redd-less Milwaukee. If Marbury had any friends in that clubhouse, he surely lost them after the Bucks game.

Stephon Marbury is defined by his opposing extremes. Marbury’s incredible strengths as a player (scoring in the paint, running the pick & roll) made him desired by teams. But his inability to work on the things to make himself a complete player (defense, operate outside the pick & roll) left him unwanted by the teams he was on. Unlike many athletes who use sneaker contracts to make themselves rich, Marbury created an inexpensive line of sneakers to benefit those that can’t afford to overpay for footwear. But his philanthropy has been undermined by his other actions. There are many to name, but the two that come to mind are his testimony of sleeping with an intern, and his threat to blackmail his coach.

Stephon Marbury has decided he won’t play for the Knicks anymore. But by refusing to play for his team this weekend, he’s hurt his chance to play elsewhere. I can’t imagine another team out there saying “hey Stephon refused to play for his team when they needed him – that’s the kind of attitude we want in our locker room!” Marbury has said he’d like to play in Italy, but which NBA coach do you think an Italian team is going to call to inquire if they should sign Stephon? Right the same one Marbury is currently driving crazy.

Stephon Marbury is his own best friend and his own worst enemy at the same time. Last night was a prime example of it.

2009 Game Thread: Knicks @ Bucks

As per Thomas B.’s Week in advance:

What to watch for: Second chance shots. The Bucks are the best in the league right now at offensive rebounding, and they’re second in the league on the defensive glass. The Knicks are not a strong offensive rebounding team (27th) and they are in the bottom half of the league in defensive rebounding (20th). New York nees to focus on ball movement and getting a good shot as second chances may not be there.

What to watch for 2: Interior defense of the Knicks. Bogut, Jefferson, and Sessions are each adept at getting to the rim. The Knicks will need to work to keep those three from securing easy buckets in the paint.

Knicks Week In Advance 11/16/2008

Hello everyone. Thomas B. here, Kool-Aid in hand, to introduce a new Sunday feature. Each week, I will compare the Knicks’ against those of their opponents and provide some insight on what to watch for. The Knicks have three games this week – a home game against Washington after road games at Boston and Milwaukee.

Tue, Nov 18 at Boston

TEAM POSS EFF eFG TO OREB% FT/FG
New York Knicks-Offense 97.2 106.4 51.4 15 21.8 18
Rank
1
14
4.5
14
27
29
Boston Celtics-Defense 92 96.6 43.4 18.2 26.5 27.1
Rank
15
2
1
3
12
22.5
New York Knicks-Defense 97.2 106.1 52.1 17 28.1 17.6
Rank
1
17
29
9
20
1
Boston Celtics-Offense 92 101.5 47.3 18.9 26.8 30.8
Rank
15
26
18
30
18
2

[First meeting this year.]

I’d be shocked if the Knicks win this game, as the Celtics are one of the top defensive team in the league. Boston is 2nd in defensive efficiency and 1st in eFG% allowed. That doesn’t bode well for a New York team that needs to score to win. The Knicks will have to push the ball and look for quick transition buckets before Boston’s strong team defense can get set.

What to watch for: The Knicks’ defense. Boston’s two losses came when they struggled to score. The Celtics had an eFG% below 40% in their two losses. If the Knicks can maintain good defensive energy and force turnovers, they could take advantage of Boston’s weak offense.

Fri, Nov 21 at Milwaukee

TEAM POSS EFF eFG TO OREB% FT/FG
New York Knicks-Offense 97.2 106.4 51.4 15 21.8 18
Rank
1
14
4.5
14
27
29
Milwaukee Bucks-Defense 90 103.7 48.4 17.9 23.2 34.7
Rank
21
12
16
4
1
30
New York Knicks-Defense 97.2 106.1 52.1 17 28.1 17.6
Rank
1
17
29
9
20
1
Milwaukee Bucks-Offense 90 102.5 45.6 17.6 32.1 24.8
Rank
21
25
27
26
2
16.5

[Knicks lost the last meeting 94-86.]

Honestly, it’s hard to come up with anything to write about the Bucks. [Editor’s note: tell me about it – writing about the Bucks for the last 5 years has been like taking a class trip to the corrugated box factory.] Everything about them is mediocre. If the NBA was a game of high low, then the Bucks are an 8.

What to watch for: Second chance shots. The Bucks are the best in the league right now at offensive rebounding, and they’re second in the league on the defensive glass. The Knicks are not a strong offensive rebounding team (27th) and they are in the bottom half of the league in defensive rebounding (20th). New York nees to focus on ball movement and getting a good shot as second chances may not be there.

What to watch for 2: Interior defense of the Knicks. Bogut, Jefferson, and Sessions are each adept at getting to the rim. The Knicks will need to work to keep those three from securing easy buckets in the paint.

Sat, Nov 22 Washington

TEAM POSS EFF eFG TO OREB% FT/FG
New York Knicks-Offense 97.2 106.4 51.4 15 21.8 18
Rank
1
14
4.5
14
27
29
Washington Wizards-Defense 91.8 111.7 53.4 16.1 29.1 19.4
Rank
16
27
30
14
23
5
New York Knicks-Defense 97.2 106.1 52.1 17 28.1 17.6
Rank
1
17
29
9
20
1
Washington Wizards-Offense 91.8 101.1 46.6 15.5 25.3 25.9
Rank
16
27
20
17
21
11

[Knicks won the last meeting 114-108.]

What can you say? Almost nothing is going right for Washington. The Wizards are one of the worst teams on both offense (27th) and defense (27th). They are without two of last year’s starters; Gilbert Arenas will be out until December, and Brendan Haywood may not play at all this year. Combine that with the slow start from Deshawn “You can’t see me” Stevenson, and you get arguably the worst team in the conference.

What to watch for: Who is going to guard Caron Butler? Butler dropped 30 on the Knicks and pretty much scored at will. Butler is the Wizards’ best player in terms of creating his own offense (18.8 PTS/36, 24th in the league in Usage Rate), so the Knicks would do well to disrupt him and keep the ball out of his hands.

What to watch for 2: Nate Robinson v. Deshawn Stevenson. Did anyone else notice these two jawing in the first game? Nate scored twice on Stevenson and showed him the “you can’t see me” hand gesture that Stevenson used last year. Robinson has played well this year but his constant taunting and talking is starting to annoy me. MSG decided to have him on microphone for an entire game. Why provide a showboat like Robinson a stage like that? That’s like letting Pookie work in your crack house. Damn Nino, what were you thinking?

Weekend Thread 11/2/2008 (or Mitch Lawrence May {Insert Anything You Want Here})

Don’t forget, New York plays tonight at 6pm. So make sure you change the Giants-Cowboys game at halftime to catch the Knicks and Bucks. Some news from the local papers…

The Post’s Mike Vaccaro doing his Humpty Dumpty impersonation, staying on the fence on the Marbury/D’Antoni issue.

Those who chanted for Marbury had every right to do it (despite what D’Antoni might really think) because as a basketball player Marbury has never been a bust, and at 31 should still have plenty of game left in his legs. But D’Antoni has every right to purge the very essence of Marbury, too, because if his talent hasn’t failed him as a Knick, his time here has been a failure nonetheless.

A small blurb at Newsday about Walsh’s handling of Zach Randolph.

Several team executives are marveling at Donnie Walsh’s handling of the Zach Randolph situation. “Donnie is playing his hand perfectly on Zach,” said one executive, predicting that teams will be lining up at the trade deadline with better offers for Z-Bo than Walsh turned down this past summer.

Mitch Lawrence, proving that you can make up titles as long as you put the word “may” in them, has an article titled “Donnie Walsh may ask Stephon Marbury to stay home.” Of course, there aren’t any quotes from Walsh saying that he will ask Marbury to stay at home. Walsh’s quotes from the article:

“I’d like to get into it and find out as soon as possible,” Walsh said after practice Saturday in Greenburgh. “I want to direct my attention to it, that’s for sure. I don’t think it’s fair to anybody, really. In other words, find out where this can go and then make a decision.”

“It’s going to take a little while to work itself out and see what we should do with this,” Walsh said. “I haven’t talked to anybody about it. I think I need to know more about it. The way it should work out, it will work out. I’m not sure what that is right now.”

“Look, I think it’s hard on Stephon Marbury,” Walsh said. “It’s been hard. I think he’s dealt with it very well.”

Free Agent Roundup — Day 1

Baron Davis has reportedly agreed to a 5-year, $65 million deal with the Clippers. No offers or signings are official before July 9th, when the the league announces the final salary cap figures. Apparently it takes eight days for a team of chipmunks to work the slide rules over on Park Avenue.

Assuming a cap number in the realm of $58,130,000 – what I saw on real GM – just four teams have significant cap room.  WIthout Davis, Golden State has the most — about $24 million. However, they also need to save up to re-sign Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins. They can go over the cap to sign them, but own Chris Cohan has said he wants to avoid the luxury tax. Meanwhile, Memphis has about $15 million to spend, as do the Clippers – if they renounce rights to Corey Maggette, as expected.  Philadelphia has about $12 million in space, assuming they keep Andre Iguodala. It’s even worse, actually, for the free agents – Memphis is supposedly in money-saving mode and is not expected to break open the bank for anyone. Seattle has about $8 million to offer, while every other team is limited to the mid-level (about $6 million) or else seeking a “sign-and-trade” if they want to get in on the action. 

Disclaimer: I occasionally saw Billy Knight at a Starbucks near my office, but now that he’s been fired I have no inside line. Therefore the information here is second-hand guesswork.  

Gilbert Arenas

     Arenas is reportedly weighing “max” offers from both Washington and Golden State. Call it a toss-up. Arenas has said he wants to stay in DC, but prior to his coming East no one thought he would ever leave his home state of California. Meanwhile, the Maloof brothers reportedly said they would give up their entire roster to get Arenas to Sacramento. Unless David Stern says he’ll let the Wiz play 15 vs. 5, I don’t think it’s worth it. Seriously, though – if Arenas is set on leaving, you have to think the Wizards would consider a deal involving Kevin Martin, a bad contract and a 1st round pick. 

 Elton Brand – Unrestricted

     Brand says he wants to stay and form a dream team with Davis. He also has Hollywood roots, as a successful film producer (like the Wernor Herzog-helmed “Rescue Dawn.”)  

Corey Maggette – Unrestricted

     Expect the Clippers to renounce Maggette, in order to re-sign Brand.  Then, unless Philadelphia or Golden States wants to pay him, it looks like Maggette will be taking the mid-level. The smart money is on Orlando, where he lives in the offseason and which is reported to be ready to make an offer.

DeSagana Diop – Unrestricted

   Reports are that Dallas will bring him home, offering the full mid-level.

Josh Smith – Restricted

     Philadelphia is reportedly set to make an offer starting at $11 million a year. The Hawks have vowed to match, but Sekou Smith, the astute beat writer for the Hawks, is pessimistic.

 Emeka Okafor – Restricted

    Last year Okafor turned down an offer in the $12 million range, and no one has enough cap room to offer that much, so it’s likely he stays in Charlotte. But there are reports of discord – Michael Jordan is fuming. If the two sides don’t calm down, Charlotte might look for a place to trade their big man. 

 Monta Ellis – Restricted

     Ellis might have been in play if Baron Davis had stayed put. As things stand, there’s no way the Warriors let him leave. They’ll match any offer.

 Ben Gordon – Restricted

    There’s no clear front-runner. Actually, Gordon had such a bad year that his value may have dropped to the point where the Bulls can afford to keep him.

 Other restricted free agents like Luol Deng, Andre Iguodala and Josh Childress, are assumed to be re-signing, since their teams are likely to match any offer.

Sign and Trade

     The sign-and-trade route is more complicated. It requires a team willing to let its star walk, another team willing to make an offer and a star who actually wants to go to the new team. For example, Miami reportedly loves Brand, and Pat Riley did sign him to an offer sheet a few years back. He’s only in L.A. because the Clippers matched it. Shawn Marion probably isn’t enough, but if Riley offered Michael Beasley and salaries to match – wouldn’t the Clips at least consider it?

     Another team that hasn’t been mentioned – but maybe should – is Detroit.  Joe Dumars says he’s willing to swap any of his starting five, and says he wants to make a big splash.  Houston – with risk-taking, stat-loving GM Daryl Morey – could also be a dark horse. Tracy McGrady is an injury risk, and the team actually has a better record without Yao Ming the past two years. Either might be tradeable in the right deal.