You couldn't scan a radio dial, surf the Internet or get a haircut late last week without hearing the Rumor That Would Not Die: Stephon Marbury was going to be traded by the New York Knicks. And invariably, the Timberwolves often were cited as a possible destination for the headstrong point guard, who forced his way out of Minnesota in March 1999 and, three teams later, still hasn't found a basketball home.
Will it happen? Long shot, at best. Should it happen? Hmm ...
There are an awful lot of hurdles to such a deal, including the $57 million left on Marbury's contract over the next three seasons. One hurdle that no longer stands in the way, it seems, is New York's willingness to part with Marbury. New coach Larry Brown already is frustrated with Marbury's me-first, pass-second game and all-too-eagerness to slide over to shooting guard, where he could indulge that style with impunity. Team president Isiah Thomas, who considers Marbury his prize bauble and on-court surrogate, no longer goes ballistic at such trade rumors, which also says a lot.
Still, there is Marbury's personal history with the Wolves, snubbing his nose at the team's master plan within days of his 22nd birthday, back when the "old" NBA system gave third-year players way too much leverage. There is his relationship with Kevin Garnett, always overbilled as a friendship and not helped when Marbury essentially left Garnett behind, avoided him at the All-Star Game in Atlanta or compared him to Mario Elie in an effort to stroke then-teammate Amare Stoudemire.
There is, too, the matter of what the Knicks would want back; Wally Szczerbiak and Marko Jaric are the names most often floated in the rumors and, while that would work in terms of salary-matching, there's no telling if New York would accept that or seek more elsewhere.
Finally, the last time we checked, Minnesota still is cold and icy. Marbury hates cold and icy.
But if the Wolves managed to satisfactorily answer all the questions and fill in all the blanks, would it be a deal worth pursuing? You know what they say in sports: The team that gets the best player in a trade usually gets the best of the trade.
That's worth remembering, too, should Garnett ever star in The Rumor That Would Not Die.
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