By Rob Peterson, NBA.com
We interrupt your regularly scheduled NBA.com surfing with a special late-week edition of Click and Roll.
To whom do you owe this pleasure of a Thursday edition of C&R? You can thank Isiah Thomas' nerve and verve for this.
As you know on Monday, the Knicks acquired Stephon Marbury, Penny Hardaway and Cezary Trybanski for Antonio McDyess, Howard Eisley, Charlie Ward, Maciej Lampe, the rights to Milos Vujanic, two first-round draft picks, cash, a house in the Hamptons and the right to have a Suns' float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.
OK, OK, we jest about the Hamptons home and the float, but not by much. The Knicks took on more than $100 million in contracts, while the Suns will get large salary cap relief if they don't sign McDyess after the season. They've already saved money by waiving Ward. Simply put, the Knicks can afford the salaries. What they can't afford is missing the playoffs again.
The Suns, meanwhile, build for the future because the present isn't too pleasant (12-24 after a loss in Milwaukee on Wednesday night).
But the real story (and not a manufactured one for a change) is in New York as Marbury returns Thursday to debut in his hometown as former Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy returns with the Houston Rockets (7 ET, TNT). Could anyone write a more improbable script?
Let's just say the Knicks and their fans have hope for a happy ending.
The immediate reaction of the New York press? Uh, you could say it was positive. Check for yourself.
New York Post: A match made in hoop heaven! (I added the exclamation point)
New York Post: Return of the prodigal Sun (Clever.)
Newsday: Isiah penetrates, dishes a star
New York Daily News: Steph back in a N.Y. groove
New York Daily News: New Knick has a knack to be one of city's greats
And if you think the enthusiasm has abated in the three days since the trade and a humbling 107-96 loss in Cleveland where Marbury had eight points in 29 minutes, well, you don't know New York. Check out these laudatory leads.
"The loudest place on earth may be inside Madison Square Garden tonight when the public address announcer begins to utter the first syllables to the words Stephon Marbury."
"Stephon Marbury plays Madison Square Garden as a Knick tonight, and so it will be like his first time at the Garden all over again. In that way, the place will be magic tonight, even though the Knicks don't win anymore, even though the only nights this season when the place has been excited and alive it has been excited about some other player, some other team. This isn't the Garden debut of a stranger like Antonio McDyess. Tonight the Garden will be excited about one of its own."
"It takes some doing to get Willis Reed excited these days. When you've seen as many changes in the NBA as he has, it usually takes more than a new face in a new place for the Hall of Famer to act like he did yesterday at Knicks practice."
So, you see, the local media is a little excited about Marbury becoming a Knick. As are Knicks fans. We had an incredible number of e-mails extolling the virtues of bringing Steph to MSG. And while we couldn't print all the letters, including the wittiest, yet most caustic e-mail in Click and Roll history (Knick Chick, we hear you), here are some of your responses to our e-mail question on Monday:
"Why is Stephon Marbury considered expendable? And who is untouchable?"
"Stephon Marbury is expendable to most GM's in the NBA because of his attitude and personality clashes with teammates. In every situation, Marbury has had issues with a teammate. The Wolves could have been a dynamic playoff team had he remained. In New Jersey, Marbury was selfish. I think the Knicks will be Marbury's last stop, and if he fails here, then I think his options for teams to go to will be just about dried up. An untouchable player to me is someone like Tim Duncan based on his leadership and scoring ability, and his intangibles.
"I think that the Phoenix Suns aren't making a good trade. Why? Well, what other player in Phoenix could make the things (happen) that Marbury does? (Charlie) Ward and (Howard) Eisley can't do this. Ward and Eisley just can't take the shots and make the passes that Marbury does.
"Marbury isn't expendable at all. The problem is that he has never had (a better than) decent supporting cast. It also seems like nobody knows how to use him to his full potential."
"To answer the first part, Marbury is expendable because there are a lot of players that play like him. The NCAA is overflowing with scoring guards who aren't tall enough to play the two, and are forced into the one. Marbury just happens to be one of the more talented ones. The most untradeable player, I believe, is Kobe. And this isn't biased, although I'm a Kobe fan. First team All-NBA, first team All-Defense. The greatest clutch player in the game today. And you know what you are going to get with him. He will leave everything on the floor. He doesn't bring baggage with him, either."
"Before questioning what's wrong with "Starbury," you have to first take a look at the trades he was involved in. Trade No. 1: A draft-day trade, which we all know isn't always a wise move (see also: Kobe-for-Vlade, Nene-for-McDyess, etc.). Trade No. 2: Minnesota knowing he wouldn't re-sign (but) wanted to guarantee he wouldn't walk without them receiving compensation. Trade No. 3: For Jason Kidd. Come on! Who wouldn't? Trade No. 4: Big Mistake on Phoenix's part."
"Guys like Marbury, Jim Jackson, Jason Kidd and Jamal Mashburn (because they were traded three times) fall under the category of 'one man's trash is another man's treasure.' They will always be in high demand. This, however, does not mean that they are expendable. The player that is untouchable still will always be relative to the one that is closest to the rim. Either Shaquille or Duncan. Reminds me of Chamberlain and Russell. Although the game has become faster and speed is necessary, it, however, is not essential. Big over fast any day."
"I really did not like giving up two first-round draft picks, but getting Marbury is a coup. Not only do we have one of the five best point guards in basketball, but MSG will be sold out on a nightly basis again. The cap relief was not going to help us. We are so far over the cap that reducing 15 million does nothing. Losing Eisley and Ward (is) not going to hurt. Losing McDyess won't either. Kurt Thomas can give us everything that McDyess did. Besides, McDyess was not going to sign with us next year anyway. My only hope is that Lampe does not turn into Nowitzki, like a lot of draft pundits predicted. Good going, Isiah! Now let's get rid of Shandon Anderson and Othello (sic) Harrington."
Click and Roll says: It's Othella, but this gives us an opportunity to say, " . . . your words and performances are no kin together." We kid because we love, Rodney.
"GMs continue to see Marbury as expendable because there are so many players that can do what he does, which is score. It is not difficult to replace this. In response to your second question, the most untouchable player is Allan Houston, simply because there is no team dumb enough to take in his gigantic contract for (the) small amount of abilities he possesses. He can shoot, and that's it. And they shouldn't take in that contract. He can't create his own shot, and he's not a franchise player."
Click and Roll says: We can safely assume Josh won't be wearing a No. 20 jersey to a Knicks game any time soon.
"What a shocker! The Knicks trade away their future and add more payroll for the next few years - all at the expense of winning today. Who needs Isiah? Any dummy could have done that. Let him go and ruin another team."
"A trouble-maker, an over-the-hill guard and a stiff. Again, the Knicks tie up their money so that they can't acquire real talent next year. Haven't they learned from the Patrick Ewing trade? Chris Webber could have been here if Patrick was allowed to complete one more year as the New York center."
"First of all I'm a huge Suns fan, and I am extremely excited about the deal. McDyess belongs in a Suns jersey and the Suns need size like Tom Arnold needs a kick in the groin! Having Antonio and Amare on the same team will be great to watch! Too many stars in 'PHX', but not enough production. See ya later, Steph."
Click and Roll says: If that happened to Tom Arnold, that would be the best damn sports show, period!
As for the most untouchable players, period, Shaquille O'Neal, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett received the most untouchable shout-outs. Others being praised include Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, Dirk Nowitzki, Ray Allen (?) and Paul Pierce.
Oh, we forgot one. And this untouchable is one we didn't think about, but if you do, it makes sense.
"The most untouchable right now are KG and King James. KG because he just had a contract extension and we all know what he means for the Wolves. He is the franchise. Concerning the King, I believe that Gund (would never) trade him right now, not even for the likes of Kobe Bryant or T-Mac, because LeBron is 'The Future.' A bright future, indeed."
Again, we'd like to thank everyone for writing in. See you Monday.
By Rob Peterson, NBA.com
KNICKS BUST A MOVE
You heard it here first. It's a doozy.
This is another classic case of living in the now for the Knicks. The Suns, who were headed nowhere fast this season, get draft picks and cap space after the season, while the Knicks get a legitimate chance for a playoff spot.
That's not to say "Starbury" isn't talented, however. Stephon Marbury is one of two players in NBA history -- the other is Oscar Robertson -- who have averages of 20.0 points and 8.0 assists per game for their career. But this is the fourth time Marbury has been traded. All of which brings me to this question: Why do GMs see Marbury as expendable? And which player is the most untouchable?
Let Click and Roll know. E-mail us.
THE NETS KIDD AND MAKE UP
So, on the West side of the Hudson, everything's A-OK with the Nets, especially after whipping the Knicks on Sunday, 95-85. Winning eight of the last 10 will cover any team's odor.
One of the reasons for the run? The Nets are a more relaxed bunch. Seems that Byron Scott ran a tight ship. So tight, the players felt it. In the last month or so, mirth has entered the Nets world.
And such is the case with the New York media, others have caught onto the theme.
New York Daily News: Byron eases up on Nets
New York Times: Scott adapts after criticism from the Nets
Newark Star-Ledger: Fun-and-run approach working for Scott
Meanwhile, in the heartland, some are taking notice that the two-time defending Eastern Conference champs and the San Antonio Spurs have hit their stride of late.
INTERNATIONAL MEN OF HISTORY
From the NBA's own Media Central, a nice tidbit about how the NBA has taken over the world (and that's a good thing):
The San Antonio Spurs … are not only the defending champs, but they also have the world's best athletes, according to respected media organizations from around the world. Reigning MVP Tim Duncan was named by ABC Sports and Sports Illustrated (along with David Robinson) as the Sportsman of the Year for 2003. The Buenos Aires Sports Writers bestowed upon Manu Ginobili the "Olimpia de Oro" as Argentina's top athlete. And in France, the sports daily l'Equipe voted Tony Parker as French sportsman of 2003. L'Equipe said of the deserving Parker: "... on June 15 he became the first Frenchman to become NBA champion with the San Antonio Spurs. That day, he walked on the moon."
American journalists aren't the only ones prone to "pourpre" prose.
WITHOUT YOU, I'M NOTHING
Phil Jackson has incredibly wide shoulders. So when he shrugs them, it's hard not to notice. Take for instance, his comment as to when Shaquille O'Neal is scheduled to get back from a calf injury.
"Shaq gets back whenever he gets back."
We wouldn't be a blog if we didn't read between the line(s). Either Jackson thinks it's better for Shaq to "rest" and recuperate during the regular season or he's admitting that, yeah, Shaq's pretty much on his own timetable.
Regardless, the Lakers' Hall of Fame Four has been whittled down to two, thanks to Shaq's and Karl Malone's injuries. Malone was place on the injured list and must miss at least four more games. It is obvious the Lakers are only half the team they were a couple of weeks ago without their power post tandem.
The L.A. Times' NBA writer praises the other STAPLES Center tenant for playing inspired basketball of late.
Uh, that would be the Clippers, who stole the spotlight for a night, despite Kobe Bryant's 44 on Sunday.
KNOW IT WHEN YOU SEE IT
-- Seattle Times
"We're totally different," Allen told the Seattle Times. "Our shots are totally different. He has a very awkward shot where he brings it from the left side of his body and when he shoots it, it always looks like it's going from left to right.
"But he practices. He works hard. And that's where it pays off. He's not blessed to shoot. He's just blessed to work at it."
No, really. How well is Peja shooting it right now?
"Peja's so good now that he doesn't even look at the guy guarding him. He just lets it fly," Kings reserve swingman Anthony Peeler told the Bee.
Also, it seems like one columnist at the Bee thinks the Kings and their fans (and the writers) have reason to crow.
And, to many people's amazement, they're doing it without Chris Webber.
NUGGETS OF INFORMATION
I remember reading an article on Kiki Vandeweghe when I was a kid (Which was a long time ago. Sorry, Kiki.) around the time Vandeweghe was averaging 29.4 points per game for the Nuggets in the 1983-84 season. (That number would lead the NBA today.) Someone asked the California kid why he was so pale after the summer.
"The sun doesn't shine in the gym," Vandeweghe said (or so I remember him replying). Seems that scoring nearly 30 per takes work.
To this day, it seems Vandeweghe does his best work in the gym. The Nuggets GM is earning praise for building an exciting young team and keeping the franchise under the salary cap.
The Nuggets themselves have taken after their front office manager, as they're averaging 13.2 more points this season than last.
One paper has it that Allen Iverson will be back on Monday after missing 10 games, while Manu Ginobili's back will keep him out five.
-- Philadelphia Inquirer, San Antonio Express-News
Pistons coach Larry Brown made personal history on Friday with his 900th win. Too bad he wasn't around to see it.
Jerry Sloan's been in one place for so long, he's grown roots thicker than a sequoia.
One of the better NBA pieces each week is Chris Broussard's "Where Are They Now?" articles about players once in the spotlight. This week, it's former Knick and NBA Slam Dunk champ, Kenny "Sky" Walker.
The Darko Milicic "situation" in suburban Detroit has gone from "All in good time," to "Patience, please," to "Geez, get off our backs will ya?"
Vlade Divac as a trail blazer? No, not a Portland Trail Blazer, but a pioneer and a father figure for players from Eastern Europe.