Marbury, Knicks part ways; Celtics poised to sign veteran point guard
Stephon Marbury and the Knicks finally parted ways via contract buyout
The Celtics are expected to sign Marbury after he clears waivers
Marbury hasn't played in a regular-season game in 2008-09
Stephon Marbury has agreed to a contract buyout with the New York Knicks. Marbury is expected to sign with the Boston Celtics as a free agent after he clears waivers later this week, league sources told SI.com.
"A comprehensive agreement was made this afternoon between the New York Knicks and Stephon Marbury,'' the Knick said in a statement Tuesday. ''Under its terms, the grievance has been resolved and the Knicks have requested waivers on Stephon. No additional terms will be disclosed."
Because he was released before March 1, Marbury will be eligible for the Celtics' playoff roster. He and veteran big man Mikki Moore -- who agreed to terms with the Celtics earlier Tuesday after being bought out by the Sacramento Kings -- would be expected to enhance Boston's bench, which has been weakened by an injury to Tony Allen and the preseason departures of James Posey and P.J. Brown.
After the Cavaliers failed to make a move at the trading deadline last week, the Celtics may have gained the advantage for their anticipated showdown in the Eastern Conference finals in May -- provided that Marbury agrees to terms and accepts his role as a backup to third-year starter Rajon Rondo.
Marbury hadn't played in a game this season as new coach Mike D'Antoni preferred to stick with the players who would be part of the Knicks' future. He never gave the temperamental guard a chance to cause the same troubles for him that he did for Larry Brown and Isiah Thomas.
The Knicks' statement also said Marbury's grievance against the Knicks had been resolved. The sides attended an arbitration hearing earlier Tuesday regarding the nearly $400,000 in salary the team had docked the point guard after alleging he refused D'Antoni's request to play in a game in Detroit in November when the team was short-handed.
He then publicly criticized D'Antoni and said he could never play for the coach because he didn't trust him. Marbury sought his departure soon after that episode, but hadn't met face-to-face with Knicks president Donnie Walsh since Dec. 1, when he left a meeting after just 20 minutes because they weren't close on a buyout agreement.
Marbury had previously refused to surrender more than $1 million of the remaining $20.8 million on his contract. It's unclear what he gave up Tuesday to secure his release.
Marbury, a Brooklyn native and New York schoolboy star, was long a crowd favorite following his return home in a trade with Phoenix in January 2004. But his departure had been expected for months after he alienated Knicks management, teammates and fans last season, the worst of his career.
Before posting his poorest offensive numbers, he drew criticism for both his erratic behavior in a televised interview, and his testimony about a sexual encounter with a team intern during a sexual harassment trial against Thomas and MSG.
The season had barely started when Marbury ditched the team in Phoenix following a spat with Thomas, sending the Knicks into a downward spiral from which they never recovered. He scored a career-worst 13.9 points per game, nearly six below his average, while playing in only 24 games, his fewest since entering the NBA as the No. 4 pick of the 1996 draft.
He had a long absence in December following the death of his father, then had season-ending ankle surgery in January.
There was speculation the Knicks would cut Marbury over the summer, but Walsh told him to come back in great shape, which he did. However, the Knicks began planning for Marbury's departure in July, when they signed Chris Duhon and said he would compete for the starting point guard job.
But there never was a competition. Duhon was the starter from the opening of training camp, with Marbury making only one start -- as a small forward -- in the preseason. He didn't play in the season opener, a surprise since he played so well in exhibition games, then had been inactive in the remaining games before Walsh ordered him to stay away from the team following the failed Dec. 1 meeting.
D'Antoni's explanation for refusing to use Marbury was that he had too much stature as a two-time All-Star and former Olympian to be given spotty minutes as a backup. More likely, he was simply looking to avoid the public feuds that Marbury engaged with under both Brown and Thomas.
D'Antoni briefly had Marbury in Phoenix before the Suns traded Marbury to the Knicks in January 2004, a deal that cleared the cap space necessary for them to sign Steve Nash that summer and become one of the league's top teams.
Things didn't work out nearly as well for the Knicks.
That trade was Thomas' first big move, coming just two weeks after he was hired as Knicks president. Marbury helped lead New York to the playoffs that season, but the Knicks were swept by New Jersey in the first round and haven't been back since.
Marbury has never won a playoff series, part of the reason he is considered a poor team player despite his numerous individual talents. He will likely get another shot now.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
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