He's no longer a Knick, but Houston might still be in play

NEW YORK -- You'll notice the word "retire" did not appear in the New York Knicks' two-paragraph statement on Saturday announcing that Allan Houston was ending his comeback with the Knicks. He had rejoined the team just days earlier, two years after his arthritic knees forced him from the game.

So keep his name in mind come March and April, when some team is going to need someone who can shoot. By all accounts of those who watched him at practice, Houston still can stroke it.

He doesn't elevate as much on his jumper as he used to, and his lateral quickness and ability to get up and down the court more than a few times in a row are limited. But he still can shoot, and if somebody wants to give him a look late in the season, he'll be open to the idea -- at least, that's the impression he left Thursday night at the Meadowlands when we spoke in the visitors' locker room.

I've known Allan long enough that I felt comfortable asking him, "Why the heck are you trying to do this with the Knicks? And why the heck are you even trying to do this in the first place?"

Houston said it basically boiled down to him not wanting to grow old wondering whether he should have given it one last shot.

There are places around the NBA where Houston might have had a realistic opportunity to compete for a job, but because his wife was giving birth to their fourth child right at the start of training camp, he limited his options to the local teams, the New Jersey Nets and the Knicks. He then had his choices reduced by one when New Jersey told him he would be better off taking a shot with New York.

But with the Knicks already carrying 16 guaranteed contracts, Houston never had a chance. It was a brief and uncomfortable existence for Houston in camp, with coach Isiah Thomas not really wanting him there but willing to tolerate the presence of a player who always was one of owner Jim Dolan's favorites.

Thomas bestowed six minutes of playing time on Houston on Wednesday night in Boston, with Houston missing his only two shots (the stat crew overlooked one, and he was officially 0-for-1 in the box score).
Houston decided the next afternoon to end the charade.

In our conversation, Houston appeared to be having second thoughts, both about his choice of the Knicks (rather than perhaps the Miami Heat or Cleveland Cavaliers) and about his own commitment.

He said he wanted one last try, but after the way this comeback was aborted, it seems likely Houston will at least consider another comeback when springtime rolls around. After all, his press release said, "I know what is required for me to be truly effective in the NBA again." And it didn't say he was retiring, did it?

Chris Sheridan covers the NBA for ESPN Insider. To e-mail Chris, click here.