Sep 18th, 2007 by Jason M. Williams
Fan editorial by Jason M. Williams
Allan Houston is contemplating a return to the NBA. But the question is – to what team? A recent online poll suggests that Allan Houston should return to the hardwood as a member of the New Jersey Nets. But how much will Houston to the Meadowlands affect his legacy in New York?
Houston began his career in Detroit, but prospered in New York, where he signed as a free agent after his third year in the pros. He quickly supplanted the aging Patrick Ewing as the face of the franchise after leading the New York Knicks to the 1999 NBA Finals, becoming the first eighth seed in NBA history to accomplish the feat. Soon after, he was awarded with an outlandish $100M contract that eventually stifled the Knicks cap maneuverability and caused the Knicks to spiral downward into mediocrity and disgrace.
The star shooting guard was a team leader and an All Star caliber player. But injuries forced him out of the game and left the Knicks with an injured player who accounted for nearly one-third of their entire salary cap figure. Eventually, Houston decided that his continual cycle of failed rehab attempts was not worth it, and he retired from the league on his own terms prior to the 2005-06 season.
However, the rules in the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement state that the salary of his contract still counts against the Knick salary cap figure, despite him not being a member of the roster. The only reason his retirement was beneficial to the team was because instead of his salary being paid by owner James Dolan, the bill would now be footed primarily by the medical insurance policy on his contract.
This upcoming season marks the first year After Houston’s contract. The Knick front office is finally free to escape the shadow of the ridicule they have faced because of his exorbitant contract. And all of a sudden, he is now conveniently feeling good enough to play?
Isiah Thomas joined the Knick organization in the 2003-04 season, and engineered a trade with Phoenix that brought Stephon Marbury to New York in exchange for Antonio McDyess and spare parts. Thomas’ vision was to put together one of the most dynamic and fearsome backcourts since his days teaming with Joe Dumars in Detroit. With Houston’s remarkable spot shooting capability and Marbury’s knack to penetrate and find the open man, it seemed as if it was a match made in basketball heaven.
The Knicks used this backcourt to fight their way into the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs that season, but came up short in the first round, notably because Allan Houston was shelved with yet another setback to his bum knee. The years have passed and Houston has left the game, but the recent failures of the Knick ability to construct a competitive team have hinged on their inability to move Houston’s contract.
Now that this weight is removed from the chest of the Knick organization, he wants to return? And of all places, he is considering the rival New Jersey Nets, who have dominated the Knicks to a tune of 22-4 record over the past 26 meetings? If Houston does in fact sign with the Nets for this upcoming season, you can bet the fans of New York will not hesitate to throw away their old Allan Houston jersey, now the victim of a freshly cut hole located directly in the center of the back.