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Buyout frees Marbury for Celtics

Signing expected; Moore joins team

By Marc J. Spears
Globe Staff / February 25, 2009
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LOS ANGELES - Not long after getting Mikki Moore signed yesterday, the Celtics were able to begin envisioning what Stephon Marbury would look like in their uniform, too.

After months of being embroiled in a soap opera, the Knicks worked out a buyout of Marbury's $21 million contract yesterday. Two NBA sources said that once the two-time All-Star clears waivers - which is expected to be Friday morning - he will sign with the Celtics for a prorated veteran minimum of $1.3 million for the rest of the season.

The Celtics also filled their need for a veteran big man by signing Moore for the rest of the season to undisclosed financial terms.

"I'm blessed to be able to move on with my career," said Marbury via e-mail. "I'm excited about the new beginning."

Marbury and the Knicks also resolved the grievance he had filed against the team over the $400,000 he had been docked for allegedly refusing to play in a game in November. The sides attended an arbitration hearing yesterday, and terms of the settlement were not announced.

Marbury, 32, averaged 13.9 points and 4.7 assists in 24 games for the Knicks last season, but he hasn't played in a regular-season game since Jan. 11, 2008. He needed surgery for bone spurs that ended his 2007-08 season, and with the arrival of president Donnie Walsh and coach Mike D'Antoni during the offseason, the Knicks wanted to move on from the Marbury era and start fresh.

The Celtics became intrigued with Marbury in the preseason when he averaged 8.5 points and 3.1 assists and went to the free throw line regularly in seven games.

He scored 16 points against Boston in an Oct. 21 game, but last played in a pre season game against New Jersey on Oct. 24. He was suspended by the Knicks shortly thereafter.

The Celtics declined comment on Marbury yesterday, but team president Danny Ainge did say he planned on signing a combo-guard or wing player for his final open roster spot. Marbury played with Celtics All-Star forward Kevin Garnett in Minnesota.

"We're looking to get a guard," Ainge said prior to the announcement of Marbury's buyout. "There is no one that we are checking on right now. But we can turn our attention to that now."

In Boston, the 6-foot-2-inch Marbury would be expected to come off the bench, joining Eddie House as the reserve backcourt. He would likely defend the bigger guards and do most of the ball-handling to lessen the pressure on House. If he signs Friday, he could be in uniform against Indiana that night.

In the 33-year-old Moore, the Celtics landed the veteran big man they sorely needed. The 7-foot, 225-pounder cleared waivers yesterday morning and joined the Celtics in Los Angeles yesterday. He had dinner with coach Doc Rivers and is expected to play tonight against the Clippers.

"The timing couldn't be better," Rivers said. "We have Scal [Brian Scalabrine] and Kevin out."

Moore, who was waived by Sacramento last Thursday, averaged 3.5 points and 3 rebounds in 16.2 minutes in 46 games this season. He played in three games for the Celtics on a 10-day contract in the 2002-03 season.

Moore, who will wear No. 7, has played in a total of 15 postseason games, including 12 with New Jersey in '07.

"It gives us another big, another dimension," Rivers said. "He can shoot the ball. He's an underrated passer. Has length. The thing I like about him is he has a high motor."

Said Paul Pierce, "I remember him from New Jersey. He really played well with that team. He has a lot of energy, does a lot of good things. He has an active body and he blocks a lot of shots. He knocks down some shots.

"He's a high-percentage guy."

With injuries to Garnett (knee), Scalabrine (neck), and guard Tony Allen (thumb), the Celtics have only 11 healthy players on the roster, including Moore. But he gives them a true backup center to Kendrick Perkins.

"He just provides some energy, some length," Ainge said. "He has really good hands. He's played well in the playoffs in the past, even if it's just 15 games.

"He was very excited to come to Boston. He was recruited by every contending playoff team. He really wanted to come."

Scalabrine, meanwhile, will miss tonight's game, as he was sent back to Boston to be examined for a cervical strain he suffered during Monday's victory at Denver.

Scalabrine recently missed nine games because of a concussion, and while he believes he has a neck injury and not a concussion, the Celtics sent him home because he had concussion-like symptoms.

The NBA Development League is slated to announce today that it will award a franchise to Portland, Maine, that will begin play next season. The Celtics are expected to end their partnership with the Utah franchise in the D-League and link up with Portland. Former Celtics assistant coach Jon Jennings, who will be the president and general manager of the Portland team, said, "The NBA D-League is such a valuable tool in the development of young talent, and I'm looking forward to showcasing that talent to the fans here in Maine."

Marc J. Spears can be reached at mspears@globe.com

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