As Brown ponders Knicks job, Marbury guarantees playoffs

July 22, 2005
NEW YORK (AP) -- While Larry Brown pondered the pros and cons of coaching the Knicks, Stephon Marbury endorsed the prospect of his former Olympic coach taking over in New York.

Brown and Knicks president Isiah Thomas met for four hours Thursday night at Brown's home in East Hampton, N.Y., a summit the Knicks described Friday as ``positive.''

Marbury said he was OK with Brown taking over -- or with keeping interim coach Herb Williams. Marbury also guaranteed the Knicks will make the playoffs.

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``How can you not be supportive of Larry Brown being the coach?'' Marbury told WEVD radio. ``He's one of the best coaches to coach the game. So for me, that's a no-brainer.''

Marbury and Brown clashed at last summer's Olympics, where the U.S. team lost three times and finished a disappointing third.

The Knicks said they did not expect to make any announcements regarding Brown over the weekend.

Brown would be coaching his eighth NBA team if he takes over the New York, but he has expressed reservations in recent days about possibly nudging Williams out of a job.

``If Herb was the coach, I think with our team, we'll still be great,'' Marbury said. ``Larry brings something totally different to the table because of his experience, and everyone knows experience rules. So for him to be the coach, it'd be great.''

The Knicks have made several offseason changes to their roster, dealing forward Kurt Thomas to Phoenix for guard Quentin Richardson, reaching agreement with Seattle free agent center Jerome James and drafting center Channing Frye, guard Nate Robinson and forward David Lee.

Under some prompting, Marbury went on to make a bold statement about the Knicks' chances coming off a 33-49 season.

``We're making the playoffs,'' Marbury said in the radio interview. ``I'm guaranteeing that. We're going to make the playoffs.''

Isiah Thomas waited patiently while the saga of Brown's departure from the Detroit Pistons played out, and Brown is clearly his choice to take over leadership of a rebuilding franchise that's been mediocre at best during the past several seasons.

If Brown were to take the job, he would give the go-ahead to his agent to work out the contract language with Knicks executives.

``Nothing has changed today,'' agent Joe Glass said Friday. ``I talk to him at least two times every day.''

As presently constructed, the Knicks don't fit the mold of one of Brown's typical teams.

Aside from Richardson and Jamal Crawford, both with low career shooting percentages, the Knicks' corps of shooting guards includes gimpy-kneed Allan Houston, who could be waived before November in a luxury-tax saving move, and the over-the-hill Penny Hardaway, playing out the final season of a long-term contract that pays him more than $14 million next season.

Tim Thomas, a career underachiever, is New York's best small forward, while the front line will be manned by work-in-progress Michael Sweetney and James, who brings an underachiever reputation along with him from Seattle.

Then there's defense, another key facet of all Brown's teams. The Knicks don't play it very well, and they also fail in the toughness category that Brown's Pistons teams so embodied.

Still, Brown loves challenges as much as he craves attention and new jobs.

His picture has been plastered across the back pages of the New York tabloids, and he even was interviewed and photographed at a boat harbor after returning from a leisurely afternoon with his family on the waters off Long Island, N.Y.

Photographers followed Brown's wife, Shelly, after she picked up Thomas from a small airport Thursday evening.

``If I'm speaking to them, I obviously have an interest,'' Brown said. ``But my concern is what is best for my family and if I can do it mentally.''

``I don't want to string this thing out for Herb or their organization,'' Brown said. ``But the biggest thing, to be honest with you, is I've got to get it straight with my family what I'm going to do.''


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