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H20 Not the Way To Go In Sizable Apple

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Allan Houston has been a class act throughout his time in the NBA.  He's a good guy whose career was victimized by an untimely set of injuries.  That he is attempting yet another comeback to the Association is admirable.  That his former team in New York is considering obtaining his services, however, is simply confusing.

Newsday's Alan Hahn has reported that Houston has been in discussions with Donnie Walsh about getting an invite to training camp, and the Knicks have shown interest in having him aboard.  

Houston's thinking makes enough sense.  He spent parts of nine seasons in New York, was responsible for some memorable moments in team history and is largely beloved by the local fan base.  The team paid him in the area of $100 milllion, and he wound up largely unable to fulfill the back end of his mega-contract.  Trying a comeback with the franchise is the right play for the player.

But it's hard to wrap one's mind around how this would work for the Knicks.

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If Houston can regain any significant portion of his old signature touch from the outside, perhaps he would have some value in Mike D'Antoni's shooter-oriented system.  But that's the end of the sensibility of such a move for the Knicks. 

This is not a team that is going to contend for a championship this year as currently constructed.  That's the reality of being built around the oft-and-deservedly-maligned Zach Randolph and Eddy Curry.  This means that the Knicks should be primarily concerned with getting younger and building toward the future.  Allan Houston is 37 years old.  Any future for him is extraordinarily finite.  This is a guy who could be in town for a year or maybe two if everything went inordinately well, and there's no guarantee of that.  After that point, however, it's extremely doubtful.  Since Houston is likely no more than a role player even if he can gain a roster spot, this isn't a guy who is going to be giving the Knicks the sort of big minutes and star performances that will change their fate all that drastically.  This makes having a 37-year-old taking a roster spot on a team that should be thinking future all the way a very odd choice.

Houston's situation is made all the more befuddling when one considers the fact that when the Knicks acquired Patrick Ewing Jr. a week and a half ago, the big concern was that Ewing might not be able to get a spot with the team because he would be the Knicks' 16th player under contract.  In order for Houston to make the squad, two Knicks will have to be cut.  Since the team doesn't seem likely to buy out Stephon Marbury and dumping the big time problems isn't really doable, this would probably mean two young players - possibly including Junior Ewing - coming off the roster to make room for H20.  

At this point, having a 37-year-old Allan Houston doesn't benefit the Knicks more than giving a promising prospect like Ewing or a youngster like Anthony Roberson a shot at some profesional minutes does.   So as nice as it might look to have Houston back around the team, it likely would be best for the 'Bockers to point him in the direction of another organization.