Stephon Marbury and the Knicks might still be haggling over the details, but there's little doubt that a divorce is coming soon. So what then? Is he really so poisonous that there's not a single team in the league willing to take a flyer on him?
I don't think so. Playing for one of the league's most dysfuctional franchises in the country's biggest media market can make anybody look bad. I'm not trying to absolve Marbury of fanning the flames, but there are a lot of players around the league who are just as much of a head case but manage to fly under the radar simply because they don't play in New York.
Plus, when he does hit the market, he'll almost certainly be on his best behavior in hopes of salvaging his reputation. And with the Knicks on the hook for most of his salary, he'll likely sign for a prorated share of the veteran's minimum. Despite all the controversy surrounding him the last few years, he'd be a low-risk gamble, especially on a team with strong locker room personalities willing to keep him in his place.
According to Alan Hahn of Newsday, the Knicks have given the Heat "a standing offer " to swap Marbury for Shawn Marion. That's obviously not going to happen, but signing Marbury would give the Heat the point guard depth they've been lacking.
Rookie Mario Chalmers has done some things well -- he's averaging 4.5 assists while protecting the ball (2.8 assist-to-turnover ratio) -- but is shooting just 41.9% from the field and is averaging just 8.9 points. Dwyane Wade is carrying the load both scoring (28.7 points) and distributing the ball (7.9 assists). Signing Marbury would give the Heat a viable backup at both the one and the two.
While the idea of pairing Marbury with a rookie head coach (Erik Spoelstra) is a little daunting, Pat Riley's presence is still felt throughout the organization. And besides, Riley has experience massaging big egos (Shaquille O'Neal, Gary Payton) and juggling notorious head cases (Antoine Walker, Ricky Davis) in recent years.
The Mavericks aren't exactly desperate for depth -- they have Jason Terry and Jose Barea behind Jason Kidd -- but Mark Cuban has already gone on the record saying he's a Marbury fan and is enough of a contrarian to roll the dice when the rest of the league turns its collective nose up. Considering Terry is more of a two-guard and Barea is hardly a proven backup, Marbury could fit right in.
As for handling Marbury in the locker room, Rick Carlisle managed to win with Ron Artest and Stephen Jackson at the peak of their insanity. The Mavericks are struggling to stay relevant in the West and may not be able to afford to play it safe.