Stephon Marbury’s relationship with the New York Knicks seems to reach a new level of dysfunction by the day. The latest chapter will likely overshadow the Knicks’ first game against Jamal Crawford since trading him to the Golden State Warriors last week.
After missing the team’s first 15 games by coach’s decision, Marbury will be sidelined because of a suspension on Saturday night when the rebuilding Knicks host Crawford and the Warriors.
New York (7-8) dealt three players in two separate cost-cutting trades last Friday, sending Crawford to Golden State for Al Harrington before agreeing to trade Zach Randolph and Mardy Collins to the Los Angeles Clippers for Cuttino Mobley and Tim Thomas.
The moves were likely designed to clear cap space for a potential run at LeBron James when he becomes a free agent in the summer of 2010, but they also set off a chain of events that has escalated Marbury’s feud with the Knicks.
Marbury was asked to play Wednesday night because the Knicks were short-handed after the trades, but first-year Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni said the disgruntled guard refused to play. As a result, the Knicks suspended him for this game against the Warriors, and docked him nearly $400,000 in salary.
Marbury, a two-time All-Star in the final year of an $80-million contract who has never been part of D’Antoni’s rotation, insists he never told his coach “no” and plans to appeal. He was not at the team’s practice facility Friday.
“It’s a regrettable situation for everybody and nobody wants to be in this spot, but we’ll play it out to the best of our ability,” D’Antoni said Friday.
With Marbury unavailable, the Knicks could have a hard time matching up with Crawford, who was the team’s second-leading scorer in his fifth season with New York before last week’s trade. Guards Nate Robinson (groin) and Mobley (undisclosed additional testing) didn’t dress for the team’s last game Wednesday night, and the Knicks had only eight players in uniform for their 110-96 loss to Detroit.
Harrington, playing his second game with the Knicks after being benched by the Warriors following a dispute with coach Don Nelson, had 25 points and seven rebounds against the Pistons, but was 8-for-24 from the field. He’s 13-for-40 overall in two games since the trade.
Thomas, in his second stint with New York, is also adjusting to D’Antoni’s fast-paced offense.
“It’s going to be a little while until we get some chemistry out there,” D’Antoni said. “For Al Harrington, it has been about a month, Tim Thomas is out of shape and struggling with his wind, and they aren’t playing up to what they are—that’s to be expected.”
The Warriors (5-11) are going through their own struggles, having lost five straight games including three since the Crawford’s debut with the team.
“We aren’t passing the ball,” guard Stephen Jackson said after a 112-93 loss to Cleveland on Friday dropped Golden State to 0-4 on its current trip and 2-7 overall on the road. “When you share the ball, good things happen. When everybody is out there for (themselves), you don’t win like that.”
Jackson, averaging a career-high 21.4 points but held to a season-low 11 in Friday’s loss, averaged 24.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists as the Warriors won both their games against the Knicks last season.