Though the New York Post’s Marc Berman quotes Knicks PG Stephon Marbury claiming he had Isiah Thomas’ permission to fly back to New York this afternoon, both Berman and Newsday’s Alan Hahn characterized Marbury as “AWOL” in seperate reports earlier Tuesday.  From Berman’s NY Post blog :

For the second straight November, Marbury and Isiah Thomas are feuding over his role. Thomas and Marbury spoke Monday and obviously it did not go well. Thomas likely wanted to decrease his minutes, maybe even suggesting him coming off the bench. Thomas is unhappy with his defense, leadership and apparently the way he’s running the offense.

Marbury believes he would not be a solid contributor coming off the bench because he has never done it. Perhaps this act is Marbury’s way of saying he wants a trade. After all, he’s already spoken about heading to Italy when his contract is up.

Isiah repeated Marbury is “welcome back” but you wonder what the owner James Dolan must think with his point guard AWOL. Thomas said he and Marbury did this dance last November after which they made up. But this could be the final straw.

Given the accountability he’s shown since arriving at MSG, maybe we shouldn’t be shocked at Marbury leaving his teammates (already missing Zach Randolph and Quentin Richardson) undermanned tonight against Phoenix.  But how in blazes did Thomas allow the Knicks to end up on the brink of unloading their starting point guard with no talent or salary relief coming back in return….a mere two weeks into the season? Believe it or not, I find this development far more shocking than Zeke putting the moves on Anucha Browne-Sanders or his employer’s stubborn refusal to settle out of court. People skills and sage decision making have been in short supply at MSG for a long stretch, but Thomas failure to resolve matters with Marbury before opening night ranks right up there with giving Jerome James the keys to Wendy’s a huge contract. Of course, Andy Reid reminds us that Isiah might’ve been a little distracted during training camp.

Though it’s always fun to recount how dramatically the Nets and Suns improved when they parted with Marbury, with all due respect, Mardy Collins isn’t quite Jason Kidd or Steve Nash.  But he will be in uniform tonight for a probable blowout loss, and that’s something.  Marbury’s due $20 million+ this year, yet neither his coach nor owner can motivate him to hang around for the 6th game of the season.

(UPDATE :’s Chris Sheridan reviews a number of trade scenarios and concludes sending Marbury, Fred Jones and Randolph Morris to the T-Wolves for Marko Jaric, Mark Madsen and Theo Ratliff, “is about the stupidest trade the Knicks could possibly make, so therefore (based upon their ownership’s track record) we cannot unilaterally discount it as a possibility.”)