Knicks president says Marbury will be at camp; veteran Houston might, too
Pouring water on widespread speculation that the Knicks will waive Stephon Marbury, president Donnie Walsh said the controversial point guard will be with the team when it begins official workouts next week.
"He's coming to training camp," Walsh said of Marbury in a telephone interview Tuesday evening.
A newspaper report out of New York Tuesday morning said the Knicks are planning to waive Marbury by the end of the week. The move, which has been speculated about for months in the media, would eventually lead to a buyout of the $21.9 million Marbury is owed in the final year of his contract.
Marbury did not seem willing to facilitate such a move, according to a report Wednesday on the New York Post Web site.
"There wouldn't be no negotiation," Marbury said, according to the newspaper. "They're going to give me all my money. ... If they want to waive me and give me all my money, fine. If not, I'll try to help this organization win the championship. They told me to come to camp in the best shape of my life and I did that. But I don't want to be in a place I'm not wanted."
On Tuesday, Walsh sounded somewhat perturbed at the rumors.
"This thing is initiated in the press and then I have to ask questions about it," Walsh said. "I haven't approached [Marbury] about a buyout."
When asked whether he's reached out to the point guard to alleviate concerns about his status with the team, Walsh said, "I talked to Stephon once and he seems OK about all of this."
Marbury is coming off the worst season of his 12-year career. He had a famous falling-out with his coach, president and one-time mentor Isiah Thomas, played in only 24 games because of injury, underwent surgery on his left ankle, and averaged career lows in points (13.9), assists (4.7), rebounds (2.5) and minutes (33.6).
But at 31 years old, Marbury is still fairly young, and reports are that he spent the summer getting in the best shape he's been in in years.
Walsh also said former Knicks guard Allan Houston will probably join the team at training camp. He said Houston, 37, has been working out with the Knicks at their practice facility and that his shooting touch is as smooth as ever.
Walsh is going to meet with Houston on Wednesday to further discuss the situation. He would not guarantee Houston a spot on the roster, though.
"I don't know the answer to that," Walsh said, when asked whether Houston would definitely play for the Knicks this season. "But as far as putting the ball in the basket, he absolutely can still shoot. He has to be in more intense situations."
Houston is expected to sign a contract paying him the league minimum salary of $1.26 million for a player of 10 or more years of experience, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. If he doesn't make the team, he will probably be retained in some front-office capacity.
If he does make the team, Houston, who wore No. 20 throughout his career, will wear No. 14 in honor of his dad, Wade, who wore the number as the first African-American player at the University of Louisville.
Houston, who averaged 17.3 points over his 12-year career, was forced to retire in 2005 because of an arthritic left knee. He returned briefly last season before bowing out during the Knicks' training camp.
Walsh said it will be different this time around.
"In that case, he hadn't worked out that much," Walsh said. "He just came in and started playing. Now, he feels like he's in better position to go out and play. I accept that."
The question is will New York still accept Marbury.
Chris Broussard is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.
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