This summer, oft-injured C Eddy Curry has can exercise an option to stay with the Knicks for another two years, at a guaranteed salary of $21.7 million.   While acknowledging the various off-court issues that have plagued Curry this season, Newsday’s Alan Hahn raises the spectre of former Knick Michael Sweetney (above, right), “who just couldn’t commit to the fitness demands of the game and eventually ate himself out of the league.”

Curry told a group of us beat writers while we were in San Francisco on that last West Coast trip that he planned to get back on the court for practice right after the all-star break. He offers all of the believable rhetoric about how being on the court is his “safe house” and the game allows him to escape from the drama going on in his life. But then the three-day all-star break comes and Curry is nowhere to be found at the MSG Training Center, where the best equipment money can buy — did you know they have a Zero Gravity treadmill? — and willing staffers awaited him to get in critical rehabilitation and conditioning work so he could do just what he said and be back on the floor, practicing, right after the all-star break. [Bloghost note: because it was the all-star break, the NBA does not permit teams to order players to do any work, but players may use the team’s facilities and resources voluntarily]. It’s been almost three weeks since the break and Curry is still not on the court. You don’t see him anywhere near the court. Not even in the hours before home games, in the empty Garden, where a 4:30 p.m. arrival and some work with the always-willing Herb Williams might show you are really serious about getting back out there.

But on July 1, Curry will have officially declined his Early Termination Option (ETO), which would then officially add that $21.7 million to the Knicks payroll over the next two seasons, including that unsightly $11.2 million against the salary cap in 2010-11.

And there’s nothing the Knicks can do about it. It’s the deal he was given in the sign-and-trade Isiah Thomas designed in Oct. 2005. Not only did the Knicks give up a pair of unprotected first-round picks, they completely surrendered any control over a player whose work habits were widely criticized from the moment he became an NBA prospect out of high school.

Almost on cue, hours after Hahn’s entry went up on,  the New York Times’ Howard Beck reported Tweeted  that Curry “practiced today. First time in almost two months.”