Mike D’Antoni’s first Knicks camp opens on Tuesday. And by all accounts — incredibly — Stephon Marbury will be waiting at the door with his $20 sneakers and latest vow to lead his hometown team back to respectability.
How could this be? There are no guarantees in Knick-land, especially when James Dolan is still at the wheel.
Marbury leaving the Knicks before D’Antoni blew his first whistle, however, sure figured to be the closest thing.
With one year left on his contract, with the lukewarm history between the two in Phoenix, with Marbury talking about going to Europe to finish his career and with Donnie Walsh looking to finally tighten the purse strings in hopes of building The LeBron James 2010 Fund? See ya, Starbury.
But four moths later, Marbury is still a Knick.
So is Zach Randolph, who the Knicks tried again (Clippers) and again (Grizzlies) over the summer to deal (kudos to Memphis for not making the dumbest deal in the league — again!).
And D’Antoni, who expected a good housecleaning while he was busy helping America to a gold medal this summer, has come back to find a mess waiting for him.
The Knicks did try to trade Marbury.
But compared to him, Randolph is in demand. And there is something in Walsh’s DNA that makes it tough for him to pay a guy $21.9 million not to play — especially when Marbury has made it clear that he won’t take “a penny less” to walk — or make an equally bad deal.
“Look, if I call up the New York Knicks, and every trade people call up and they say, 'I want your first-round pick and $3 million and you’re getting a lesser player than I’m getting … at some point, somebody’s got to say, 'I’m not going to do that.’ ”
Quite a concept — one that, lucky for the Suns and others, Isiah Thomas was never quite able to grasp.
So start up the calliope. At least for awhile, the circus is coming back to the Big Top, with a new ringmaster.
WEEK IN REVIEW
What goes around ...
To Joe Torre, a fine gentleman and manager who is heading back to the postseason for the 13th straight season, this time with the Dodgers.
Meanwhile, the Yankees — who shoved Torre out the door with a laughable, insulting, incentive-laden contract offer last fall — are sitting home for the first time since, well, since someone other than Torre (Buck Showalter) was running the club.
Trash talk via text
Nice shootin’ text! Pittsburgh rookie running back Rashard Mendenhall has a lot to learn, both on the field and off. He sent a text message to Baltimore rookie/pal Ray Rice describing how he plans a huge game in his first NFL start — against the Ravens and their top-ranked defense. Of course, that info quickly was relayed to Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs and company, who apparently have a message they wish to deliver in person.
Hiccup! Remember all that hand-wringing last week in Los Angeles? All the worrying that No. 1 USC might go undefeated and still be left out of the BCS title game because the rest of the sorry Pac-10 would drag them down? Oregon State sure dragged them down Thursday, and the only ranked team in the conference is in for a free-fall. Once again, Pete Carroll can’t win the little one.
• I understand the idea behind the Cardinals staying on the East Coast between road trips to Washington and the New York Jets.
But why did the team stay in a hotel that was a 30-minute bus ride – and with traffic, as much as an hour – away from the Catholic University practice site?
That’s as much as five hours in a bus, which isn’t nearly as cushy as the team charter flight they saved.
• Lucky for Oregon State coach Mike Riley that his team held on to that last USC onside kick and an upset win.
His players had already given him a Gatorade bath when the Beavers had a two-touchdown lead with two minutes left.
Think about USC coming back to win and Pete Carroll coming across the field to shake Riley’s dripping hand.
• It just keeps getting better for the Clippers. First, they signed Baron Davis to appease Elton Brand — who promptly left for Philly.
They lost Corey Maggette and offered Kelenna Azubuike a three-year, $9 million offer sheet — which the Warriors promptly matched. And after stealing Marcus Camby from Denver, they cut loose Shaun Livingston and signed Jason Williams to play point guard — only to have “White Chocolate” retire Friday, just before training camp.
THE HIGH FIVE
Top five reasons injured guard Gilbert Arenas skipped out on the Washington Wizards’ media day Friday:
FIVE Figured the press would be busy interviewing new Wizard Linton Johnson.
FOUR Had to “suspend” his basketball duties to assist in the financial bailout on Capitol Hill.
THREE Was in court trying to get his name officially changed to “Hibachi.”
TWO Too busy with duties as organizer of all possible Lute Olson bachelor parties.
ONE Was going to tell the media he hurt his knee playing pickup basketball with Monta Ellis. Oops.