Stephon Marbury and Jason Kidd forever will be bound by a famous trade and perhaps by a bad knee as well.
Marbury, the Knicks' point guard, is regarded as a top candidate to replace Kidd on the Olympic team, according to a NBA official with knowledge of USA Basketball's selection process. Kidd, who won a gold medal at the Sydney Games in 2000, is considering pulling out of the Games in Athens because of a sore left knee that may require off-season surgery.
The Lakers' Kobe Bryant already has withdrawn his name from the team because of his upcoming sexual assault trial. Seattle's Ray Allen is also close to pulling out because his wife is expecting to give birth in early August. Karl Malone is also mulling not playing. The team will open training camp July 26 and play its first game of the Olympics on Aug. 15.
Marbury, according to an official, is on a "short list" of point guards who would replace Kidd. The Timberolves' Sam Cassell, the Hornets' Baron Davis and Houston's Steve Francis are also under consideration. Sacramento's Mike Bibby already is on the team.
Marbury has several factors working in his favor: he can play either guard position and has experience in the international game, having playing for a Junior Olympic team in 1994. Also, Marbury has expressed a willingness to participate in the Olympics.
In March, Marbury said: "That would be a dream come true. I've played in an Olympic type of setting. I know the meaning behind being on a team like that. To represent your country as one of the best would be awesome."
Marbury has a strong ally in Knicks president Isiah Thomas, who is lobbying USA Basketball on his behalf. Thomas also has a close relationship with Larry Brown, who will coach the Olympic team, and Thomas attended last year's qualifying tournament in Puerto Rico.
Thomas was on the 1980 Olympic team but that year the United States boycotted the Moscow Games. He then was at the center of a controversy when he was omitted from the original Dream Team in 1992 despite having won two NBA titles.
The selection committee is expected to meet early next week, when it officially will name the Nets' Richard Jefferson and Kenyon Martin to the team. Kidd, traded for Marbury three years ago, likely will wait until after the playoffs are over before making his decision.
Kidd, Bryant, Allen and Malone are all still on the active roster, along with Tim Duncan, Jermaine O'Neal, Tracy McGrady, Allen Iverson and Bibby.