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Knicks finally reach buyout deal with Marbury

The Knicks today will finally - and officially - wave goodbye to the tumultuous Stephon Marbury Era after a buyout agreement was reached yesterday in Manhattan.

Marbury stepped out of his arbitration hearing at the law offices of Skadden Arps around 2:25 p.m. and into the crisp February afternoon air wearing an overcoat gleaming with gold buttons and a smile beaming with satisfaction. He danced into 43rd Street, dodging traffic and crossed to the other sidewalk. With fists held above his head, he said, "I'm happy!" and jogged toward Sixth Avenue, basking in the Times Square atmosphere.

According to several NBA sources, Marbury has already committed to signing with the Boston Celtics once he clears waivers after the mandatory 48-hour period. He could be with the Celtics as early as Friday against the Pacers in Boston. Marbury, who turned 32 last Thursday, will be eligible for the postseason because he was waived before the Sunday deadline. "I'm blessed to be able to move on with my career," Marbury told The Boston Globe last night. "I'm excited about the new beginning."

Marbury, who hasn't played in a regular-season game in over a year, will be a free agent this summer.

The defending champion Celtics (46-12), who signed forward Mikki Moore yesterday, are percentage points behind the Cavaliers for the top seed in the Eastern Conference. If the Knicks (24-32) can somehow rally to earn the eighth seed, they could meet Marbury and the Celtics in a first-round matchup. The Knicks go into tonight's game against Orlando 2 1/2 games behind Milwaukee for the final playoff spot in the East.

On what would be his final day as a Knick after five years in New York, Marbury did not stop to take questions from reporters. The Knicks - who are owned by Cablevision, which also owns Newsday - later released a joint statement with Marbury. "A comprehensive agreement was made this afternoon between the New York Knicks and Stephon Marbury," the statement said. "Under its terms, the grievance has been resolved and the Knicks have requested waivers on Stephon. No additional terms will be disclosed."

It is believed Marbury will walk away with about $4.5 million of the $6.4 million left of his $20.8-million salary this season. The agreement included a settlement on the $400,000 in fines the Knicks levied against Marbury for allegedly refusing to play in the Nov. 26 game in Detroit. Marbury was in Manhattan to attend an arbitration hearing regarding the fine. Mike D'Antoni testified in the morning but after the sides broke for lunch they returned and agreed to table the arbitration to begin buyout discussions.

It was the first time Marbury and Knicks president Donnie Walsh had met since Marbury stormed out of the initial buyout talks on Dec. 1 at the MSG Training Center. Marbury has been in exile since the incident in Detroit. He has spent most of his time in Los Angeles reportedly working out to stay in game shape in anticipation of getting his release so he could join another team. The Celtics have long been considered his top choice, especially with Marbury's former teammate, Kevin Garnett, giving him an endorsement.

It was surprising that Marbury even started the season on the roster. The Knicks signed Chris Duhon in the offseason to replace Marbury as the starting point guard. Walsh decided to invite Marbury to camp with the hopes he would play well enough to attract trade offers. Marbury did play well but everyone around the NBA knew the Knicks would eventually look for a buyout.

The Knick years

Stephon Marbury's numbers in his 4 1/2 active seasons as a Knick (he saw no action this season):

287

Games

37.9

Minutes per game

18.2

Points per game

2.9

Rebounds per game

6.98

Assists per game

1.2

Steals per game

2.7

Turnovers per game

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