Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas
Oh, there’s some fascinating stuff going on in the Stephon Marbury caper: Intrigue, lying, back-door dealing, money, the whole bit. All we’re missing is some sex, but that’s already happened in a previous caper.
Here’s what jumps out: How is it that head coach Mike D’Antoni “asked” Stephon to play? How is it that D’Antoni “requested” that Marbury play? When Marbury was in uniform, how is it that D’Antoni didn’t walk over to him and, in front of dozens (hundreds?) of witnesses, simply say, “Marbury, get in the game NOW.”? Clearly, if the latter had happened and Marbury outrightly refused to play, he would have been properly suspended immediately.
So, what do we have now? We have a he said-he said. D’Antoni said Marbury refused to play. Marbury said that D’Antoni never told him he had to play (indeed, Marbury said he would have played if told directly to do so) but simply asked him if he wanted to (and he didn’t). It’s perfectly believable that Marbury, who wants to keep every nickel, would know (or have been told) not to disobey a direct order.
When I wrote a few weeks back (see Kallas Remarks, 11/4/08) that Walsh and D’Antoni had to get on the same page, I didn’t realize there were so many pages. Clearly, Walsh wanted Marbury to play so, at a minimum, he (Marbury) might have some trade value. Walsh seemed stunned that D’Antoni, after giving Marbury 20 minutes a game in the exhibition season, simply shut him down (and out) once the regular season began. What’s equally stunning is that D’Antoni told Quentin Richardson that Marbury wouldn’t play before the first game and didn’t bother to tell Marbury (and, it seems, Walsh as well). While Walsh is looking at the long-term, big picture, he can’t be happy at the way D’Antoni’s handled this situation.
Another fascinating and different page. Dolan’s page is from the Larry Brown book: wear him down over time and he won’t need every nickel to go away. Larry Brown, you’ll recall, was guaranteed $40 million after completing his dreadful first Knick season. But after leaving Larry twisting in the wind, and then threatening Larry at meetings and hearings with his “breach” (what? talking to the media outside the Greenburgh facility?), somehow, Larry Brown took less than 50 cents on the dollar and walked away with $18 million of the remaining $40 million, a stunning $22 million dollar win for the Knicks (of course, others would say that Larry got $28 million to coach one terrible season, which is also true).
It says here that James Dolan simply doesn’t want to pay Marbury his full salary AND see him back in the league next week on another team. And, to some degree, Dolan has, arguably, won. In Saturday’s New York Post (via Marc Berman), Marbury is quoted as saying he’s already offered to leave one million dollars of this year’s $21.9 million salary on the table for his freedom. That’s certainly a crack that Dolan will try and turn into five or ten million. We’ll see.
So D’Antoni was in a bind. Maybe he was told to play Marbury. Maybe he had a change of heart. But it says here that D’Antoni didn’t want Marbury to play, so he “asked” him, rather than “told” him, and it worked – Marbury said he didn’t want to. However, from a legal perspective, asking and telling are two different things. That’s the legal conundrum the Knicks are in right now. And don’t forget, according to varied reports, D’Antoni not only didn’t want to play Marbury, he was hoping Marbury would be gone before training camp began.
These two are the closest to being on the same page. But the sticking point might be, at this stage, Walsh wants to get rid of Marbury because of the circus atmosphere this has created in New York and around the NBA. But Dolan, again, wants Marbury to take much less (see Larry Brown) and doesn’t mind having Marbury twist in the wind for a while longer. Again, there’s a million-dollar crack in Marbury’s position that may increase over the next few days.
See the first three paragraphs of this post. Marbury, at one point, did want to play. D’Antoni, certainly originally, NEVER wanted him to play. While D’Antoni might have felt pressure (injuries, trades, Walsh, Dolan or some combination thereof) to play Marbury, it certainly seemed like he wanted him gone – then and now. But the key point still is: why ASK a player if he wants to play; why not TELL him that he has to play? A fascinating question.
WHAT HAPPENS NOW?
So what do we have? We have a player who wants out with virtually all of his money (less, for now, $1 million). We have a coach who doesn’t want to play the player and who never wanted to play the player. We have a general manager who wanted the player to play (for trade value purposes) but never got his wish. And we have an owner who doesn’t want to cave to a player and have him play somewhere else next week.
It says here that the middle ground is Marbury gives up a little more money and everyone tries to save a little face. It also says here that everybody winds up with egg on their face. It’s a disgrace what’s happened here and to this franchise. There’s plenty of blame to go around.
Maybe Lebron was right. Maybe we should all go to sleep and wake up on July 1, 2010. And, yes, this is written by a life-long Knicks fan.
© Copyright 2008 by Steve Kallas. All rights reserved.