Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Updated: February 26, 9:40 AM ET
Marbury's NY divorce anticlimactic
ESPN.com news services
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Stephon Marbury hasn't been around much over the last year, so the New York Knicks had little reaction now that he won't be back.
To them, he already was gone and forgotten.
"He hasn't really been seen in a little while," forward David Lee said Wednesday, after the Knicks' morning shootaround. "Almost somewhat of a dead issue for us because we knew at some point it would probably happen."
Marbury's exit may have taken longer than expected -- there was some surprise he was even with the team when training camp opened -- but the Knicks haven't been spending much time thinking about their former captain.
"It's not like, 'Oh, now we can really play basketball, we're not distracted,' " coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We weren't distracted before."
Nor does D'Antoni have any regrets about the way he handled his time with Marbury.
"We said all along, tough situation," D'Antoni said. "We weren't on the same page."
The Knicks and Marbury finally parted ways Tuesday after reaching a buyout on the remainder of his contract that expires following this season. The point guard will be free to join a playoff contender once he clears waivers -- expected to occur Friday at 10 a.m. ET, the league informed all teams Wednesday -- and he's already been linked to the Boston Celtics.
Regarding the likelihood of Marbury signing with Boston as early as Friday, one source close to the process told ESPN.com's Marc Stein: "That's what [the Celtics] hope. Marbury has expressed interest in them and they have expressed interest in him."
Another source indicated that Marbury and the Celtics have already commenced discussions on a contract. The Knicks had long ago given Marbury clearance to speak with other teams about a new job after it became apparent as early as opening night that he would not be playing again for his hometown team.
Nobody knows how much he'll help any team though, since he hasn't played a regular-season game in more than a year.
"We'll see. I don't know," Knicks forward Quentin Richardson said. "I don't know what he's been doing. I assume he's been working out or whatever. I mean, only thing I can say is time will tell. Good luck to him."
Though Marbury had still been a Knick, he wasn't a part of the team much toward the end of his turbulent time in New York. He took a long leave of absence last season after his father died in early December, then had season-ending ankle surgery in January. His last official game was Jan. 11, 2008.
He was back with the team in training camp and early in the season before team president Donnie Walsh ordered him to stay away on Dec. 1 while the sides worked toward the buyout of the remaining $20.8 million Marbury was set to earn in the final year of his deal.
"Obviously the buyout was significant enough for us to stop our worries about the risk of the competitiveness side of it. I don't mean on the basketball floor, but from a financial situation," Walsh said Wednesday. "So we're willing to say, 'OK, we'll do it and you can find your team.'
The sides had first tried to negotiate a buyout nearly three months ago, but that meeting lasted just 20 minutes before Marbury walked out, frustrated with the terms Walsh sought.
Marbury originally vowed he wouldn't give up any of the $20.8 million he was scheduled to earn this season, then eventually said he would surrender $1 million. Walsh likely sought double that to let Marbury leave.
They were face-to-face again Tuesday when an arbitrator heard Marbury's grievance of the nearly $400,000 in salary the Knicks docked him after alleging he refused to play in a November game. That was quickly scrapped as buyout talks began after lunch.
Walsh could have held on to Marbury through this weekend, making him ineligible to play for another team in the postseason, but preferred to avoid that -- if Marbury cooperated.
"Not if I saw he was making a legitimate effort to put us in the right position, acknowledging our position," Walsh said.
In the meantime, the only time the Knicks saw him was when he bought a ticket and sat courtside when they visited the Los Angeles Lakers in December.
None of the players who spoke Wednesday criticized Marbury -- though Richardson ripped him after Marbury declined to play when the team was short-handed in November -- but they surely won't miss the distractions he caused.
Marbury was at the center of numerous controversies during his five years in New York, from feuding with coaches to skipping games. So while the former Brooklyn schoolboy star's arrival may have been celebrated when he returned home in January 2004, his departure is probably just as popular with his former teammates.
"For whatever reason the match didn't work out and we're moving on," Lee said.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.