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Ruptured Achilles tendon ends James' season

Jerome James' season is over. An MRI yesterday revealed that the rarely used center suffered a rupture of his right Achilles tendon during Sunday's practice.

James, 33, has a $6.6-million player option next season that he will exercise, and the team likely will look to buy him out this summer to free up a roster spot. The Knicks - who are owned by Cablevision, which also owns Newsday - could try to push for a medical retirement, which could save cap space for next season. But James would have to agree to it.

Most of the $6.2 million owed to James this season could be covered by insurance because James will miss more than 41 games. The Knicks also will obtain some luxury-tax relief.

James appeared in only two games this season and has been beset by injuries since Isiah Thomas signed him to a five-year, $30-million-plus contract in 2005. He has appeared in four games in the last two seasons after playing only 86 games in the first two seasons of the deal.

Isiah scouting

Knicks president Donnie Walsh said he met with Thomas recently before he sent the former team president on a scouting mission. "He seems to be doing well," Walsh said of Thomas, who in October allegedly overdosed on sleeping pills.

Walsh mum on Marbury

Stephon Marbury reportedly has put his offer of taking $1 million less than his remaining salary to accept a buyout back on the table, but Walsh had no response. "I'm not going to negotiate publicly," said Walsh, who last week spoke with NBA players association associate counsel Hal Biagas, who is representing Marbury in the talks. Walsh did not indicate that he expects talks to resume soon. Marbury is owed a little more than $12 million of his $20.8-million salary.

Inauguration event

The Knicks and the Garden of Dreams today will commemorate the presidential inauguration of Barack Obama and celebrate the message of Martin Luther King Jr. with an event at Planet Hollywood in Times Square. Chris Duhon, Jared Jeffries and Malik Rose will attend the "Celebration of Change" event from 4 to 6 p.m.

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