Mike D’Antoni to testify at Marbury’s hearing

Knicks head coach Mike D’Antoni will miss practice to testify about his interaction with Stephon Marbury earlier this season when the guard allegedly refused to play in a game against the Pistons.

They’ll be back in each others’ faces Tuesday, and the hearing will force coach Mike D’Antoni to miss practice while he testifies before grievance arbitrator Calvin Sharpe, a Case Western Reserve University law professor, to recount exactly what was said on that November day at a suburban Detroit hotel when D’Antoni purportedly told Marbury he wanted him in the lineup that night and was prepared to give him regular playing time going forward.

Marbury has said his response was something along the lines of “I thought y’all were going in a different direction,” and he has maintained that he was careful not to say anything that could be construed as a refusal because that would technically put him in violation — if not breach — of his contract.

Marbury asked for an expedited grievance hearing, and the hearing will convene at 10 a.m. with Marbury, Walsh, D’Antoni and a handful of lawyers in attendance.

“I’ll have to [say] what happened, the way I saw things,” said D’Antoni, who also appeared less than thrilled at the prospect of spending several hours in a law office conference room sitting across the table from the one person who has managed to keep himself a sideshow and a distraction throughout this season.

The Knicks hold all the cards here, and unlike most NBA franchises, they are used to the media circus. I’d say two teams could handle having Marbury sidelined the entire season — the Knicks and the Lakers. With Marbury only offering $1 million in unpaid salary to secure his release, there isn’t much incentive for the Knicks to let him go. The Knicks are just 2 1/2 games out of the 8th spot in the East, and could very well face the Celtics in the first round in the playoffs. They’d gladly pay $1 million so that he can’t come back to bite them in the playoffs.

I don’t understand why Marbury didn’t take the Knicks $3 million offer. He needs to get his career back on track and he’s not going to be able to do that as long as he’s with the Knicks.

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NBA News and Notes: Mikki to the C’s? Camby almost a Spur?

– The Celtics (and others) have offered Mikki Moore a contract. He had a solid 2006-07 season, but the 33-year-old’s career has gone downhill since then.

– Stephon Marbury and Knicks GM Donnie Walsh are going to meet tomorrow to try to hash out a buyout agreement.

– The Warriors are going to shut Monta Ellis down for a week due to stiffness in his ankle, the same ankle he injured mopeding around Mississippi.

– The Spurs were reportedly close to trading for Marcus Camby before last week’s trade deadline. Apparently, the Spurs would have sent Bruce Bowen, Fabricio Oberto and George Hill to the Clippers. That’s basically a Hill-for-Camby swap, and I’m surprised that the Clippers didn’t jump on it. Hill is on track to be a starter-quality point guard in the NBA.

– Mike Dunleavy might miss the rest of the season with an injured knee.

Did the Celtics agree to sign Marbury?

Stephon Marbury and the New York Post say “yes,” but a Boston Herald source says “no.”

According to sources, the Celtics have had talks with Marbury (the Knicks gave him permission to speak with other teams in hope that it would hasten his desire for a buyout), but one source close to the situation said yesterday the club has made no firm commitment to him on a deal.

For his part, Marbury doesn’t understand the Knicks unwillingness to reach a buyout agreement.

“The question to be asked to the Knicks is: Are they fearful for me playing for another Eastern Conference team? My thing is, they shouldn’t be fearful,” Marbury was quoted as saying. “They’re trying to get under the cap for 2010. They shouldn’t be worried about me. You had guys saying I was a distraction, I’m a cancer. If I’m all those things, wouldn’t you want me to go to another team?

“It shouldn’t matter that I go to Boston if you’re the eighth seed and Boston is in the front. It can’t be about money. The Knicks got plenty of it. It’s got to be personal. If it’s personal, then how is business being done there?”

What Marbury is glossing over, however, is that the Knicks did make a buyout offer ($3 million less than his total salary), but it just wasn’t enough money for Marbury.

So, really, who’s being unreasonable?

Expiring contracts…who’s got ’em?

The NBA trade deadline is less than a month away, so it’s a good time to talk expiring contracts. These are players that are in the final year of their deals, which makes them trade fodder for teams looking to cut salary this summer. I’ll list each player by contract size, whether or not he can still play, and discuss the possibility that they’ll be traded by the trade deadline. I’ll also dig into the strategy that their current teams should and/or could be utilizing when considering a trade.

All salary data is from HoopsHype, and I’ll assume – given the bad economy – that the cap will stay at about $59 million next season. (In fact, it might even be lowered.)

Allen Iverson, Pistons
Salary: $21.9 million
Detroit is 20-15 since trading for AI, and considering the franchises successful run over the past few season, that’s disappointing. But the Pistons didn’t make this trade to acquire AI, they made the trade to rid themselves of Chauncey Billups’ contract, which runs through 2011. Was this wise? Probably not, at least in the short term. Billups is one of the top point guards in the league and is doing great things with his new team. But since the Pistons like what Rodney Stuckey can do (and justifiably so), Billups became expendable. GM Joe Dumars made the deal to give the team the financial flexibility to retool the roster over the next two summers, and with Iverson and Rasheed Wallace coming off the books, the Pistons will have about $26 million to spend this summer. They could opt to sign Carlos Boozer, but would likely have to pony up big bucks to do so. He would probably start at $14 million, so that would leave $12 million to re-sign the 34 year-old Wallace or another center. The team could conceivably sign Boozer, then wait a year, let Rip Hamilton’s contract expire, and then sign Chris Bosh or Amare Stoudemire in the summer of 2010, giving the team a core of Stuckey, Boozer, Tayshaun Prince and either Bosh or Stoudemire to build around. Not bad. Considering the main reason the Pistons traded for AI was to cut salary, the chances of them trading him (and taking on salary in return) aren’t good. (Though a Marion-for-Iverson swap might help both teams in the short term.)
Chances of being traded: Low

Read the rest after the jump...

Marbury renews offer to give $1 M back in buyout deal

The Stephon Marbury Buyout Watch continues.

The banished Marbury told The Post yesterday his $1 million giveback is back on the table. Marbury said he’s waiting to hear back from Knicks president Donnie Walsh on his proposal.

Marbury, who is training in Los Angeles, says he has a firm offer from at least one club, allowing him to change his negotiating stance for the first time in seven weeks. The Celtics are the leading candidates to sign Marbury, according to a source.

Marbury had taken the $1 million giveback off the table during their stormy Dec. 1 meeting. Marbury put it back in play because at least one team has now made a commitment to him, allowing him to make the $1 million back.

Walsh last offered Marbury to take $3 million less. Marbury has been told by Knicks officials the matter is in owner James Dolan’s hands and he’s been awaiting word for several days.

Marbury also fears Dolan won’t accept his offer until after March 2, when he’d be no longer eligible for a playoff roster.

Let me get this straight — all this drama for a measly $2 million? I realize that this is a ton of money to normal people, but this is pocket change for James Dolan. Is $2 million worth the distraction of keeping Marbury on the roster? My guess is that the Knicks main problem with buying out Marbury is that they might be helping the Celtics in the process. But it’s not like the Knicks are a serious playoff contender — why not get rid of the headache?

As for Marbury, I don’t know why he hasn’t taken Dolan’s offer of a $3 million pay cut. He’s jeopardizing his ability to prove he’s worth a three- or four-year contract after this season. No one is going to sign him to a long-term deal if he doesn’t play (and play well) for the remainder of this season. Surely that’s worth $2 million to Starbury, right?

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