Houston, We Have a Problem

Barry Rothbard

Roger Clemens, Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson: What do these men all have in common? These athletes came out of retirement and made miraculous comebacks in their respective sports. Now, another man hopes to join the ranks of these legendary heroes. He is most famous for ruining one of the most proud franchises in sports, the New York Knicks, by signing a six-year, $100,000,000 contract in 2001 that put the squad in salary cap constraints for years. This balky-kneed man is none other than the infamous Allan Houston, a former Knick great. The Knicks have decided to give the 36-year old, franchise-crippling, knee-buckling Allan Houston a tryout to join the team, but at what cost? What could the Knicks possibly gain out of giving a tryout to a washed-up star?

When Allan Houston was first signed by the Knicks as a free agent in 1996, he was supposed to help Patrick Ewing win his elusive championship. While he had his moments, such as leading the Knicks to the 1999 NBA Finals, the Allan Houston Era can only be described as an utter failure. Even in his prime, Houston was not the type of player who took the ball to the hoop with real authority. The former Tennessee Volunteer was a spot up shooter who was good at drawing fouls and making the open, mid-range jumper. Why would the Knicks ever want Allan Houston back?

Because these are the New York Knicks. They have proven that the unthinkable is natural. After all, they traded for a man with a chronic heart disorder (Eddy Curry), a complete burn out (Steve Francis) and a strip club addict (Zach Randolph). The Knicks have quickly become one of the most futile franchises in sports. As much as it pains me to say this, New York appears to be at least three to five years from seriously contending in the East. And by giving Allan Houston a chance at a comeback, the Knicks keep adding fuel to their status as the laughingstock of professional basketball.

Luckily, Isiah Thomas has said that the Knicks are giving Houston a tryout out of “respect” and not because the team is looking for another cog in the machine. However, he does have an outside chance of making the Knicks’ 15-man roster. But why would New York go down this road with a washed up, 36-year old shooting guard, seeing as how New York already has five men who can play the two-guard?

Because these are the New York Knicks, who have put themselves in yet another lose-lose situation. If Houston makes the roster, the Knicks look pathetic and desperate. If he gets cut, this comes off as another pointless Isiah Thomas transaction. And we all know Thomas doesn’t need the bad publicity right now. Odds are that Houston’s comeback attempt ends up as a complete failure, just like every other bold Knicks move in the post-Ewing era. Then again, Houston and Marbury could form the most dynamic backcourt duo in the NBA. But don’t count on it.