April 4, 2008 -- NEW ORLEANS - Stephon Marbury Stephon Marbury sounded like he was doing cartwheels yesterday as he praised owner James Dolan for hiring Donnie Walsh as president and removing Isiah Thomas from power. Marbury now likely will outlast his feuding partner.

The rehabbing Marbury, who is not traveling with the club, told The Post by phone that Walsh brings three things Thomas did not bring - a New York sensibility, a vast amount of managerial experience and the truth.

Marbury also knows Walsh's presence means he has a legitimate chance of remaining with the club next season in the final year of his contract, with Thomas on the verge of getting the boot from the bench after the season.

"I really want to sit down with [Marbury] at some point," Walsh said. "I know he was injured. I know about what happened earlier in the season. I do want to sit down and know what the issues are because he's a good player. I don't know where Marbury is and he's a key player."

The feud between Thomas and Marbury that came to a head in Phoenix in November set an awful tone. Thomas tried to remove Marbury from the starting lineup after five games with the team at 2-3. Ironically, Thomas has repeatedly blamed the season's failures on Marbury playing in just 24 games, even though he tried to remove him.

"I obviously wasn't in Isiah's plans," Marbury said. "He talked about the guards going to be here next year. Maybe I'll be in Donnie's plans. If not, it will bother me not to play basketball here. I feel I got something to prove. I feel like I'm motivated in a different aspect after what I went through this year. I don't want to play anywhere else. I feel I have five years left at a high level. I'm 31, not 40."
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That means Walsh won't trade him. He made it clear that he wants to rebuild and want to protect the cap space. Marbury is a 20 million expiring contract so he is a key piece.

I always said that Marbury can be elite on a team where he's allowed to play his game and not have to be a spotup shooter in a offense that forces the ball to Chubby and Fat Zach.