D'Antoni offers playing time; Marbury refuses, but their stories differ

Updated: November 23, 2008, 9:30 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

With two moves, the New York Knicks created salary space for a premier free agent down the line and playing time for Stephon Marbury.

Except that Marbury declined.

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After the Knicks traded Jamal Crawford to Golden State for Al Harrington, and sent Zach Randolph and Mardy Collins to the Los Angeles Clippers for Cuttino Mobley and Tim Thomas, the bench was depleted. Needing the league-minimum eight active players to avoid a forfeit, coach Mike D'Antoni asked Marbury to dress.

D'Antoni said he told Marbury there would be 30 to 35 minutes of playing time available Friday against the Milwaukee Bucks.

However, the point guard again took his now-customary spot on the bench, where he has spent every minute this season, leaving the Knicks with only seven players in the opener of games on back-to-back nights.

The Knicks lost to the Bucks, 104-87.

"When the trades went down this afternoon, I said, 'Look Steph, one of the principals are gone, Jamal Crawford. There's 30 to 35 minutes out there, and they're yours if you want them. Are you ready to go?' " D'Antoni said.

According to D'Antoni, Marbury replied that he "wasn't comfortable with the situation, and he did not want to play. So at that point, I go, 'O.K., that's your decision, and that's fine.' That's it."

Marbury had a different view of the events.

"The only thing I'm at liberty to say is that I was told that they were moving forward, and I'm not the person who chooses who plays or doesn't," Marbury said.

But wasn't that at the beginning of the season?

"I was told that today, too," Marbury said.

According to the New York Post, Marbury said he taped his ankles in case he was needed.

"Refusing to play is when the coach tries to put you in the game and you say you're not going in," Marbury said, according to the paper. "If he asked me to go into the game, I was going into the game. That's why I taped my ankles."

New York's new additions might not be available to play until Tuesday's game against Cleveland, leaving it considerably short-handed for the time being.

"I thought it was an opportunity for him to play, and I was kind of hoping," D'Antoni said. "But at the same time, there's consideration of a lot of guys in that locker room that are giving their hearts out. And those are the guys that I'm going to go on with, and those are the guys that I'm going to love, and those are the guys that are going to compete every night."

The Knicks, still short-handed, beat the Wizards on Saturday, 122-117.

"Steph's a grown man," Knicks guard Chris Duhon said. "If he doesn't want to play, he doesn't want to play. It doesn't bother me at all. I was satisfied going to war with the seven guys we had."

D'Antoni said he did not consider Marbury's refusal to play an act of insubordination.

"He was in a tough situation," D'Antoni said. "I'm not mad at Steph. But that's enough of the talk because it is a distraction and we need to go forward and we have a new team coming in and we're going to get this done."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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