Something else to be thankful for: The Knicks and Stephon Marbury finally are headed for a divorce.
After CBSSports.com first reported Wednesday night that Marbury refused to play for the second time in six days, the stalemate between Marbury and coach Mike D'Antoni has reached its inevitable conclusion.
At D'Antoni's urging, Knicks president Donnie Walsh is exploring options that would finally remove Marbury from the locker room and roster, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. These include sending him home until a buyout or trade can be arranged, waiving him, or suspending him without pay for refusing to play.
D'Antoni, who has banished Marbury to the bench and told the $22 million point guard he's not in the plans, approached Marbury about playing Friday night in Milwaukee when the Knicks were shorthanded after trading Zach Randolph and Mardy Collins to the Clippers and Jamal Crawford to Golden State. He approached Marbury again on Wednesday, when the Knicks had only two healthy guards available (besides Marbury) when they faced the Pistons in Detroit. Marbury again refused, and sat in his customary spot at the end of the bench in street clothes.
It is anticiapted that the D'Antoni-Marbury showdown has reached a point of no return and will be resolved by the end of the weekend. The Knicks host the Warriors Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.
"In so many words," a person familiar with the situation said, "he needs to be sent home."
But Walsh has been in no hurry to expedite Marbury's ouster, wanting to preserve whatever minuscule trade value he had left, and has moved deliberately throughout the process. There could be some legal wrangling between Walsh and Marbury's only representative, NBA Players Association attorney Hal Biagas, to determine whether Marbury's recent encounters with D'Antoni about playing time constitute a contract violation. Garden chairman James Dolan has balked at paying Marbury his entire $21.9 million salary in a buyout, and Marbury has vowed publicly not to take a penny less -- even if he could make that money up by signing with another team.
Teams that have at one time or another expressed interest in Marbury include Golden State, Miami, and Dallas. As of their last meeting, Walsh and Biagas had not reached the phase of seeking a new team for Marbury, which would facilitate his departure.
If you think Marbury has any standing in the locker room or have any doubt about where his teammates stand, read these quotes from Quentin Richardson in Thursday's print edition of Newsday:
"He hasn't played with us all year. He doesn't want to play with us. He's expressed that a second time, so whatever. I don't look at him as a teammate, because teammates don't do that. Regardless of what you have going on with the organization or what you have going on with your coach or whatever, you're not going to allow your teammates to be left out there the way they were left out there. ... Regardless of how you're trying to stick it to whoever. At the end of the day, we're getting left out there and we're shorthanded. People are hurt, and people are still playing.
"Right now," Richardson said, "he's the furthest thing from my mind. ... He's not trying to be part of this team and he's voiced that. So why would I waste my time thinking about it?"