For Knicks, It's One 'Steph' at a Time

Adam FierCorrespondent IOctober 21, 2008


Another year, another new head coach, and another year of headaches.

It must be time for New York Knicks basketball, which means it’s time to talk about Isiah Thomas’ guys and just how many games they’ll lose this season.

What’s that?  Isiah was fired?  Oh he wasn’t fired, but he was reassigned?  Huh?

Whatever word the Knicks decided to use in describing the removal of Thomas from his coaching and Presidential duties is irrelevant, as the most important thing was that the man no longer makes any decisions of any importance regarding the franchise he worked his tail off driving into the ground.

Ironically, look for a number of Zeke’s guys to be among those responsible to any potential turnaround this season, as Nate Robinson, David Lee, Wilson Chandler and Mardy Collins should all see significant increases in both playing time and responsibility.  All were drafted by Thomas while at the helm.

Of course now its all about Donnie Walsh and Mike D’Antoni, the men who will be in charge of reminding people that professional basketball (along with some long lost professionalism for that matter) can be found at the World’s Most Famous Arena.

With a new regime comes new hope, albeit no more than a glimmer of hope for a franchise that is coming off their second 23 win season in the past three campaigns.

If you’re looking for roster turnover, look again, because these Knicks look an awful lot like last years edition, although they do feature some minor adjustments, including first pick and European import Danilo Gallinari as well as point guard and Duke alum Chris Duhon.

Among the returning faces, only one has drawn the type of negative attention this team was hoping to move beyond following Thomas’s dismissal and that would be the Brooklyn boy himself, Stephon Marbury

No Knick begins the season more beleaguered than Marbury, while no Knick probably will be playing with a larger chip on his shoulder.

For what seems like the third or fourth consecutive season, we’ve been told that Marbury reported to camp in the greatest shape of his life, which means about as much to Knicks fans as how the sales of Dale and Thomas popcorn (yes, Isiah Thomas) is being effected by the current economic crisis. 

Of course the popular belief continues to be that it is not a matter of whether or not Stephon will finish the season in a Knicks uniform, but rather how quickly he’s sporting new colors in his $15 sneakers.

For now, as recently as tonight’s preseason game, Marbury in fact did find himself in unfamiliar territory- the starting lineup- as D’Antoni replaced the struggling Jamal Crawford in hopes of finding new chemistry among his starting five.

Its only preseason, but Steph has looked decent enough to earn minutes, and in my opinion, combined with Duhon’s lack of anything spectacular, earn back his starting spot  full time.

Duhon has been an adequate backup in his career, and his new contract hardly justifies the fact that D’Antoni favors him in the starting lineup, as a motivated Stephon Marbury will give his team a better chance to win basketball games, plain and simple.

For all the negative surrounding Steph, and there is no shortage of it, the guy has plenty to prove in the final year of his contract.  He wants to play, and if he wont get time in New York, he’ll do his best to showcase himself in an effort to land elsewhere, meaning it could easily be a win-win for the Knicks, as long as number three sees enough action to garner interest.

With opening night a week away, the Stephon Marbury saga continues to intrigue (me, at least) and I’ll make a bold prediction I actually made months ago that the Knicks starting lineup will include Marbury when the season tips off.

Does it matter?  Probably not, as the Knicks appear destined to finish below .500 for an eight consecutive season.

That being said, there is finally legitimate reason to hope, no matter how much or how little, as a new hierarchy has been established, even if the cast of characters remains mostly the same.

To Knicks fan I would stress patience, because fixing this mess of a franchise can happen, but only one 'steph' at a time.