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Celtics' stars praise and welcome Marbury

The nameplate above what had been the most notorious stall in the Knicks locker room was now as vacant as the stall has been for most of this season. Stephon Marbury officially was put on waivers yesterday after he reached a buyout agreement with the Knicks on Tuesday. And Donnie Walsh wanted to clarify that it was Marbury who approached the Knicks, who are owned by Cablevision, which also owns Newsday.

"We didn't buy out Stephon," Walsh said. "He came to us and took a buyout. He gave up part of his contract to be bought out."

Semantics aside, Marbury has to wait until tomorrow morning to officially sign with the Boston Celtics, who will welcome him with open arms.

"Stephon has been an extraordinary talent during his career, he definitely can help us," Ray Allen told reporters in Boston yesterday. "It will be interesting when he gets here. I know when it was with me making the adjustment here, Kevin [Garnett] making the adjustment, even Paul [Pierce] making the adjustment. Stephon has been a franchise player and if he can make the adjustment to the situation, he can definitely help us."

Marbury could be in Celtic green as early as tomorrow night, when Boston plays the Indiana Pacers at the TD Banknorth Garden. The Celtics believe they won't have the same issues Marbury had in New York, where he was the biggest personality in the room. With the defending champions, especially with former Timberwolves teammate Garnett in the locker room, he will be expected to fit in.

"The talent of Marbury is undeniable," Pierce said. "He's been one of the best point guards. And we feel when you get him around the veteran group we have around here that things will become different. I have been able to become a different player with the veterans we acquired and I feel the same about him."

Though the buyout took a while to get done, Marbury's absence from the team since he was put in exile on Dec. 1 allowed the players to move on a long time ago. Walsh said he had "no hard feelings" toward Marbury.

"When he didn't do that right thing, that's when I suspended him," Walsh said. "But, I think you think there's some war going on, there wasn't from my standpoint. I never disliked him."

Said D'Antoni, "It's over. It's good for him, good for us, good for everybody. just turn the page, it's over and wherever he goes and plays, that's good. So it worked out best for everybody I think."

New York Sports