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The Knicks Aren't Having Any of It

Posted by Kevin Arnovitz

Despite "We Want Steph'" chants from the MSG dead-enders and Chris Duhon's less-than-sterling stats, Mike D'Antoni has no plans to get Stephon Marbury out of his street clothes and onto the floor. Though he's widely regarded as a coach who will take a mercurial scorer over a gritty on-ball defender, D'Antoni has taken to Chris Duhon. From the New York Post:

"(There's) some gut feelings," D'Antoni added. "People underestimate Duhon. I think he's a really good basketball player and what he does is win. But I don't want to compare him to Steph. I don't think it's fair."

Duhon has hit only nine shots from the floor this season, and though Marbury has few partisans left in New York, D'Antoni is starting to be challenged more aggressively about his faith in Duhon. Responding to questions about Duhon's ugly digits, the Knicks coach told the New York Times, ""Individual stats mean absolutely nothing. So what exactly is Marbury's current role on the Knicks? From the NYT:

D'Antoni said that Marbury does scrimmage once in a while - when someone else needs a break - and seemed to imply that not practicing with the team was Marbury's choice.

Marbury said no one had explained to him why he was not playing, but he realized that as long as he was not going to be a starter, there were other players who could benefit from more time on the court.

Not getting much work in with Knicks, Marbury has expressed interest in recent days about practicing with his alma mater, Lincoln High School. Marbury says he just wants to stay in shape. Coney Island is a more reasonable commute than Italy, and the defensive assignment of guarding a 17-year-old is considerably less taxing.

However enticing it might be for the Knicks to have the East River between Starbury and the rest of the team, Knicks President Donnie Walsh has quickly put the kibosh on Marbury's plan:

"I've got nothing to say about it," Walsh said through a spokesman.

According to a source, Knicks brass felt Marbury, who has decided to cease participating in team scrimmages during practices, would be in violation of his contract and place himself in danger because he could lose his money if he gets injured.

Last night when contacted at the team's Washington hotel, Marbury, after learning about the Knicks opposition to the plan, told The Post he's not going to try to persuade team officials to change their minds.

"I'm not going to do it, if it's going to be a problem," Marbury said. "I didn't think it would be."

Marbury may have needed "written consent" from Walsh. According to a standard player's contract, paragraph 12 states, in part, "The player agrees that he will not, without the written consent of the team, participate in any game or exhibition of basketball." The Player's Association last night was reviewing whether that includes participating in a high school practice during a season.

Before the plan fell through, Marbury, a 1995 graduate who won a state title for Lincoln, already had gotten the OK from the school's coach Dwayne Morton, a close friend.

"I called coach already and told them I was going to come," Marbury said yesterday after practice before flying with the team to Washington, where the Knicks face the Wizards tonight. "I'll be able to run up and down with them and at the same time teach the younger guys the NBA game."

PSAL Brooklyn had no comment.