Stephon Marbury says he isn't going to take less money to be bought out of his contract from the Knicks -- and he shouldn't.
Knicks president Donnie Walsh says he's against buying out players' contracts and won't buy out Marbury's, even though it is clear that he should.
In the most bizarre soap opera of this young NBA season, a healthy, rested and seemingly motivated Marbury has been reduced to wearing a suit at the end of the Knicks' bench this season despite being paid $21.9 million in the final year of his contract.
Marbury has been inactive in every one of the Knicks' nine games this season, never once putting on his uniform as Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni refuses to play him, going so far as keeping injured players on the active roster for games instead of dressing one of the league's most talented point guards.
It's a situation so terribly handled that you'd think Isiah Thomas was still running the team. The difference is, even Thomas, as poor as he was as a general manager and coach, would have had the decency and professional courtesy to buy out Marbury's contract at this point and allowed both parties to go their separate ways. As Knicks fans can attest to, if there was one thing Thomas knew how to do, it was buying out bad contracts.
Some in New York are calling for Marbury to take less money in a possible buyout and try to make up the difference by signing with another team. While that would certainly make sense and allow Marbury to sign with any team he wanted, why should he have to take less money because the Knicks don't want him anymore?
Marbury has been as professional as he can be despite being publicly disrespected by D'Antoni and Walsh. He shows up for practices, attends shoot arounds and is on time for every game. So why should he be the one taking a pay cut for not being wanted?
"Would you accept anything less if somebody owed you money?" asked Marbury. "If I owed you $100, right, and I said to you I don't want to give you $100, I want to give you $80, what would you say?"
It's really a moot point anyway since Walsh is against buyouts and the chances of Marbury getting anything more than a one-year minimum deal at this point seems remote. Sure, he'd like to get back on the court and play for a winner, but he's at the end of his career and shouldn't have to leave money on table and help the Knicks, who are famous for wasting money, save a few bucks because they want to play hard ball.
The problem is Walsh and D'Antoni are being terribly hard-headed in this situation. I can understand a player not wanting to take a drastic pay cut toward the end of his career. But I can't understand a team president not wanting to buy out a player's contract while still being content with paying him his full salary for sitting at the end of the bench every night; basically keeping him hostage instead of allowing both sides to move forward. I also can't understand a coach, who is supposed to do what's in the best interest of his team by playing the best players, refusing to activate Marbury, even over injured players, despite the fact that he's one of the best players on the team. Then again, I shouldn't really be surprised; I haven't been able to understand much of what the Knicks have done the past eight years.