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D'oh Canada

So who gets a buyout from the Knicks first, Stephon Marbury or Mike D'Antoni?

We kid, really, but you have to consider that the Toronto Raptors probably would have been D'Antoni's top choice if Bryan Colangelo had fired

Sam Mitchell last spring instead of waiting until last week to do it. D'Antoni and Colangelo have a relationship that dates to their days with the Phoenix Suns, and both believe in an up-tempo, ball-movement philosophy.

And the Raptors, despite their sluggish start, obviously are much further along than the rebuilding Knicks, who are owned by Cablevision, which also owns Newsday.

Colangelo admitted to Toronto reporters after Mitchell was fired that he had considered the move last season, "when we talked pretty openly about how we all felt the roster had improved, the depth was there but we got less out of it . . . The bottom line is there was a sense of disappointment of where we ended up and how the playoffs took place."

He decided to stick with Mitchell, who had just signed a four-year contract extension after earning Coach of the Year honors in 2006-07. D'Antoni was left to choose between the Knicks and Chicago Bulls and took the team he believed had greater potential (along with a greater paycheck).

Colangelo lamented how poor the Raptors - built to be a drive-and-kick, inside-out team - were in transition offense and made it clear he wants them to run more. And that is what interim coach Jay Triano - the first Canadian to serve as an NBA head coach - will attempt to implement.

D'Antoni and his system would be a perfect fit with that roster of Chris Bosh, Jose Calderon, Andrea Bargnani and Jason Kapono (did we forget to mention Jermaine O'Neal?), but that ship has sailed and is now docked for at least three more seasons here in New York Harbor. And D'Antoni is committed to being a major part of the renaissance at the Garden, where things are expected to vastly improve by 2010, when the Raptors will be concerned about losing Bosh to teams like the Knicks. But then again . . .

"You know what they say about the Knicks' coaching job," one NBA coach recently joked. "You work one year and then get a three-year paid vacation."

Disney Land-ing?

The Magic could be one of the potential suitors for Stephon Marbury once he reaches a buyout with the Knicks, which could come as soon as this week. Marbury would give Stan Van Gundy

more options in the backcourt, where Jameer Nelson has been sidelined with a nagging hip flexor injury and the Magic has been getting by with veteran journeyman Anthony Johnson, J.J. Redick and rookie Courtney Lee seeing a great deal of playing time.

Orlando would have to waive a player to create a spot for Marbury. He certainly would improve their talent, but considering his past issues (mainly with coaches), he comes with a risk for a relatively

young team that still is trying to establish itself both on the court and in the locker room.

Still, considering all Marbury has to prove, it might be a worthwhile gamble.

After reaching the second round of the playoffs last season, Orlando is looking to take the next step in becoming a contender in the East. Marbury hasn't been in the playoffs since his first season with the Knicks in 2004.

The Knicks - who are owned by Cablevision, which also owns Newsday - would prefer that Marbury sign with a Western Conference team, but fans shouldn't expect that to hold up the completion of a buyout, which could come this week.

There's been a prevailing belief that the Dallas Mavericks have been monitoring the Marbury situation. But J.J.

Barea has played so well behind Jason Kidd lately (he had 18 points in a 112-97 win over the Phoenix Suns on Thursday), the Mavs might not have a need at the point.

But Dallas still could use help at the two, where Gerald Green is starting so Jason Terry's energy can be utilized off the bench. Marbury would be a talent upgrade over Green (though a downgrade in athleticism), and just imagine a Kidd-Marbury backcourt. It would beg the immediate question: Who would you say is the best point guard in this backcourt?

The Mavericks have an available roster spot to accommodate Marbury, but they probably would want to dump disgruntled Jerry Stackhouse at the same time. Coincidentally, Stackhouse fits everything the Knicks are about right now - he would thrive in D'Antoni's up-tempo system and his contract is up by 2010 - but the money doesn't work because Stackhouse makes $7 million this season compared with Marbury's $21.9 million.

Perhaps the Knicks could look to pick up Stackhouse if he agreed to a buyout after Marbury is signed. The Knicks will have a particular need at shooting guard if the results of Cuttino Mobley's heart tests, which might not be known until next week, point to a medical retirement.

The King vs. Sir Charles

Controversy is always good for the ratings, which is what makes Charles Barkley such a valuable piece of the NBA on TNT broadcasts (and why we see copycat attempts in other places, such as, of all places, NBAtv). And after Barkley's rant two weeks ago that LeBron James should "shut the hell up" about 2010, James shot back that Barkley is "stupid."

And last week in Cleveland, King James still was steaming.

"I don't have nothing to say to Charles Barkley," he said. Asked if he has any kind of relationship with Sir Charles, James dismissively

replied, "No, not at all."

You've met him?

"Yeah," James said, "and that's as far as it goes."

But the feud carries on, even to the point that other athletes are defending James.

"Leave LeBron alone. He's the man," Cowboys wide receiver Terrell Owens said to Barkley during an interview with TNT's Craig Sager during Thursday's Dallas-Phoenix game. "You just sit up there with Kenny [Smith] and Ernie [Johnson] and leave LeBron alone."

Barkley, always poised to get the last word in, had this to say about Owens: "T.O. and Tiger [Woods] wear small shirts to make their muscles look bigger."

Patrick Stewing

With three head coaches already fired this season (P.J. Carlesimo, Eddie Jordan and Sam Mitchell) and a few others very much on the hot seat (Mo Cheeks, Marc Iavaroni), Patrick Ewing, currently an assistant with the Orlando Magic, is wondering when he'll finally get his chance.

"It's very hard," Ewing told the Orlando Sentinel.

"This is my fifth year as an assistant coach and I haven't gotten an interview yet. All I can do is keep putting in the hours and let people know that I'm interested."

He was interested in the Knicks' opening last spring, but not enough to make a call to Donnie Walsh. Instead, Ewing

hoped Walsh would reach out to him, given that he is one of the franchise's all-time greats, and when he didn't, Ewing was upset. But Walsh will make amends soon when he signs Ewing's son, Patrick Jr., once a roster spot becomes available.

570 Days until LeBron James becomes a free agent.


Author: Fox Sports
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Added: December 7, 2008


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