- Chris Broussard, NBA analyst
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"It's something I'd like to do,'' Houston said in a telephone interview Thursday morning. "It's just a matter of getting myself back in game shape and getting used to playing again.''
Houston, 36, was forced into retirement in October 2005 after an arthritic left knee limited him to just 70 games over the previous two seasons. In 2002-2003, his last full season, he led the Knicks and finished 10th in the NBA with a career-high 22.5 point scoring average.
Houston, who worked as an NBA analyst for ESPN last season, said he has been working out hard for more than a month and that his knee feels great. He recently played in high-caliber (though not NBA level) summer league games in New York and plans to work out in Las Vegas with a personal basketball trainer later this month.
He would not discuss which, if any, teams have shown interest in signing him, but sources say Dallas and Cleveland headline the list of interested clubs. Boston, which has contacted Miller about a comeback, Phoenix, Miami and perhaps San Antonio, are also teams that would be logical destinations.
Out of courtesy, Houston informed Knicks owner James L. Dolan of his comeback attempt earlier this summer, and Dolan has allowed him to train at the Knicks' practice facility. It is not clear whether the Knicks would be interested in signing him, but Houston, who lives in nearby Connecticut, said he would not rule out a return to the place he played the last nine seasons of his 12-year career.
Houston, a career 17.3 point scorer, was still near the top of his game when he retired. He averaged 18.5 points in 50 games during the 2003-04 season, and while visibly struggling through knee pain, still managed to average 11.9 points in 26 minutes during his 20-game stint in 2004-05.
However, the two-time all-star and 2000 Olympic gold medalist is not expecting to return as a 20-point scorer.
"I'm looking to play a supporting role to some of these great young stars,'' Houston said. "More of a leadership role, someone who can add experience and stability late in games. I don't expect my scoring and my minutes to be what they used to, but at the same time, I'm not looking to just be a decoy out there. I'd like to have some kind of role.''
Chris Broussard covers the NBA for ESPN The Magazine
4dSteve Ilardi and Jeremias Engelmann