NEW YORK -- Barring the "ridiculous," according to New York Knicks president Donnie Walsh, Stephon Marbury's status will be settled Monday.
Some would say that ridiculous is what the Marbury situation has already become, but Walsh made no promises Saturday that the stalemate will come to an agreeable end when he, Marbury, and Marbury's attorney, Hal Biagas of the NBA Players Association, meet on Monday.
Walsh said team owner James Dolan had given him no specific instructions on how to proceed.
"Unless it's something ridiculous, I think he would say 'Do what you think is best.' That's what he's told me."
Asked to define "ridiculous," Walsh replied: "I don't know."
Despite his public statements that he wouldn't accept "one penny less" that what he is owed, Marbury has already told the Knicks he'd accept roughly 95 percent of his $20.86 million contract, and the team has not yet made a counterproposal, although one presumably will be forthcoming Monday.
"Until I sit down with Steph and we go over these scenarios, I don't want to make any statements that could be judged that I've already made up my mind," Walsh said.
New York has negotiated buyouts with several players in recent years, among them Maurice Taylor, Jalen Rose, Dan Dickau, John Amaechi and Shandon Anderson, and the payouts in those cases -- and in other buyouts around the league -- have generally ranged anywhere from 60 percent to 99 percent of a contract's remaining value.
It is unclear whether Marbury will be placing himself at a disadvantage by choosing to have Biagas, rather than a certified player agent, represent him. Biagas, however, is a veteran of several collective bargaining negotiations with attorneys from the league office, and he is privy to the terms of all buyouts negotiated between players and teams.
Still, if Walsh offers 75 percent, Marbury counters with 90 and neither side moves toward the middle, there could be an impasse that leaves Marbury, the rest of the team and the entire franchise in a protracted state of limbo.
"I'm going to leave it open. There are going to be options out there, but I think we've come down a long road here and we have to direct ourselves to where we are now," Walsh said. "Everything is on the table. We'll talk about probably a lot of different options."
Asked what options there might be, given that the size of Marbury's contract makes him virtually untradable, Walsh replied: "I don't know, I haven't thought about them yet. I was eating Thanksgiving dinner when I got this information."
Marbury was suspended for Saturday night's game against Golden State after the Knicks alleged he refused to play when coach Mike D'Antoni asked him to suit up prior to a road game against Detroit on Wednesday. Marbury has disputed the Knicks' contention, saying he never turned down a specific request to play.
Walsh did shed some light on why he decided to suspend Marbury this time, but not a week earlier when Marbury allegedly refused to play in Milwaukee.
"I can only tell you the way it was presented to me, the one in Milwaukee was more like a suggestion: 'Hey, I can get you some minutes tonight, you get an opportunity to play, it might be good for you,' and Steph said maybe you should keep going in the same direction you're going in," said Walsh. "My understanding of this conversation was that Mike was far more definite: 'I want you to play tonight,' and Stephon said he wasn't going to play. That's the way I took it. . . . And I believe Mike.
L'Affaire Marbury has been a monumental headache for Walsh and D'Antoni as the first few months of their joint tenure has unfolded. It appears Walsh did not understand or was not adequately told the degree of mutual disdain that remained between D'Antoni and Marbury from their brief time together in Phoenix, and Walsh said he was unaware on opening night that D'Antoni did not plan to put Marbury into the game. Marbury has been inactive for every game since -- except for the night in Milwaukee when he dressed but did not play to allow the Knicks to meet the NBA requirement of having a minimum of eight players available.
"I think everyone came in with good intentions, and it hasn't worked out. So we have to acknowledge that and talk about it," Walsh said. "I'm disappointed in the situation. I'm definitely disappointed in the refusal to play because I think that's central to a player's contract. It says you will provide your services; it doesn't say you will play if you have the playing time you want, or if you like or don't like the coach, it doesn't say anything about that."
That will be one of the finer points that can come up for discussion Monday, before the offers go on the table and both sides decide whether the other's stance constitutes "ridiculous."