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The Simmering Starbury Idea

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Stephon Marbury's expiring contract has been discussed regularly around here since the summer. I'm not sure, however, that we've considered it since the absolutely disastrous downturn in late November.

It's worth noting given Marc Stein's latest theory on the reason the Knicks haven't excused Starbury to date:

The other explanation mentioned often at the D-League Showcase, among [Donnie] Walsh's fellow executives in the stands at Utah Valley University, is that Walsh would prefer to hang on to Marbury's expiring contract through the Feb. 19 trading deadline. Just in case the Houston Rockets decide they want to disassemble their nucleus by offering up Tracy McGrady (whose contract expires in 2010) … or the Sacramento Kings say they're willing to part with Brad Miller (and Kenny Thomas to help make the salary-cap math work) … or the Miami Heat unexpectedly consent to part with Shawn Marion.

"Donnie still thinks he can trade Steph," one Western Conference executive said.

As we've been over: Brad Miller is too good to give up for just cap space. There needs to be another asset, preferably a young point guard or forward, maybe a pick or an option to swap picks.

An extra $8.7 million in 2009-10 cap space -- that's an asset. Is it enough? That's the question Geoff Petrie has to answer. Remember when Portland played with New York solely for cap space, the Steve Franchise trade? Well, in that case the Blazers lost something like four years of salary for a player (Zach Randolph) admittedly more productive (but less vital) than Miller. The Blazers also got back a medium-level prospect in Channing Frye. The Kings would be dropping only one year of salary and assumably receiving no real prospects.

I assume such a deal would end with the quick buy-out of Marbury, which means (barring the addition of a Knicks pick) this trade would be made solely and completely for the Summer '09 or trade deadline '10 market. There's no other benefit of the deal, except for some low-level "clearing the starting role for Spencer Hawes" stuff that seems a bit overrated at this point (considering how much Hawes played and shot on Friday).

Assuming a top-5 Kings pick that plays in the NBA next season, Bobby Brown picking up his option and a $2 million Mikki Moore buy-out, the Kings would have $20 million to play with on the market this summer. Without the deal, the Kings have the mid-level and a few expiring contracts. It's debatable which would be an advantage. 2010 expirings should be in demand in six months as teams make a last gasp to get space. So it becomes a question of whether you can get a better player (or better players) by trade or free agency with tons of cap space this summer, or whether you can find a better player using Miller and Thomas as expiring contracts this summer or next winter.

I have no clue. I trust Petrie, Cooper and Levien to make the right decision and make sure Miller isn't lost for naught.