The morning after a 2nd half collapse against the defending World Champs left the Knicks with a 99-93 OT loss, we learn via the NY Post’s Marc Berman the Dolanites will have to slog thru the rest of of the ’07/08 campaign without the services of the Association’s Self-Proclaimed No.1 Point Guard.

Because his ankle surgery 2 1/2 weeks ago was more complex than anticipated, Stephon Marbury will not return, according to two people with knowledge of the operation.

The Post has learned that Dr. William Hamilton discovered more damage than the MRI showed – seven bone fragments in the ankle causing Marbury pain. The pieces of bone needed to be removed. That turned a routine 30-minute bone-spur operation into two hours of surgery.

“It wasn’t just a bone-spur operation,” a source said.

The Knicks announced after the Jan. 22 surgery that Marbury was “out indefinitely,” and still have given no timetable for his return. Though low-end estimates had bone-spur recovery at six weeks, there was rampant speculation Marbury would not return this season, figuring he would not rush his rehab because the Knicks were out of the playoff race and due to his rift with Isiah Thomas. That could mean Marbury’s Knicks career is over.

Marbury has not attended any of the home games since the surgery because he mostly has been bedridden. Marbury got off crutches only a few days ago and was on heavy pain medication for 10 days following the surgery. Marbury’s ankle also has swelled up on several occasions after he has walked on it.

With one year and $21 million left on Marbury’s contract, the Knicks will shop his expiring pact, and he could be bought out if that fails. His career is not in jeopardy, and he is expected to be 100 percent by training camp.

Eyebrows were raised when the Knicks released a statement following his MRI saying Marbury “decided” to have ankle surgery, making it seem it was his call and against the Knicks’ wishes.

In the event New York does find a taker for Marbury’s contract, keep in mind how other teams have historically improved following A-Rod’s Stephon’s departure.

If Marbury is bought out, there could be a really interesting battle in training camp next season between Stephon and Travis Best for the starting PG job at La Fortezza Bologna.