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Days of Pine and Poses

A benched Marbury ponders a return to high school

DURING HIS 4 1/2 years with the Knicks, Coney Island native Stephon Marbury has taken his hometown franchise on a wild ride. His public feud with former coach Larry Brown contributed to Brown's dismissal. Marbury admitted having a tryst with a Knicks intern in the back of his SUV. And who can forget that moment in 2007 when, after losing his starting job, Marbury abandoned the team for one game during a road trip? His memoir could be titled Becoming a Distraction, the Marbury Way.

He's not done. Last week the point guard, who has been inactive for five of the first six games this season, declared his intention to practice with the team from his high school, Abraham Lincoln in Brooklyn. Marbury quickly backpedaled. "I spoke to the players' association, and they said it wouldn't be a good idea," he said. But the question remains: How long will Marbury, 31, be a Knick? New coach Mike D'Antoni prefers to play a younger backcourt rotation, and new CEO Donnie Walsh, who has an aversion to eating contracts, has said he won't waive Marbury, who is in the last year of a deal worth $21.9 million this season. Walsh has also said he won't trade Marbury, but according to NBA sources the Knicks have been shopping him—only to find that the market is nonexistent. "Marbury has near zero trade value," says a Western Conference G.M. "They won't take any long-term deals back, so they are asking for a big expiring contract and young players. No one is going to give them that."

Complicating matters is that Marbury is his own agent, meaning if the Knicks want to discuss a buyout, they must deal directly with him, and Marbury has said he won't take a penny less than he is owed. Thus Marbury will likely remain a Knick for the rest of the season. "He's on the inactive list, and he'll be there until something else changes," says D'Antoni. "And I don't know in the foreseeable future what that is."

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