D'Antoni to miss practice for Marbury hearing

Mike D'Antoni

Nearly three months after the season started, and long after he was told to stay away from the team, Stephon Marbury is about to cause another distraction for the New York Knicks.

Coach Mike D'Antoni said he will miss practice Tuesday, forced to appear at an arbitration hearing to discuss Marbury's grievance against the team.

D'Antoni will tell his side of the story about what happened on Nov. 26 in Detroit, when the Knicks contend Marbury refused the coach's request to play when the team was short-handed. The Knicks suspended him a game and fined him nearly $400,000, claiming it was the second time he declined to play.

D'Antoni's first season in New York has occasionally been overshadowed by Marbury, who hasn't appeared in a game - some by the coach's decisions, some perhaps by Marbury's.

"It's not a great situation for anybody. I hate it for Steph, I hate it for the Knicks, I hate it for everybody, but it's just something we're doing and we'll deal with it and get it over with," D'Antoni said Monday before the Knicks hosted Indiana. "There's a lot worse things in the world going on, so we'll just deal with the problem and do the best we can."

Marbury contends he never refused to play, only that he preferred not to, and asked the players' association to file a grievance on his behalf.

The banished point guard hoped to be long gone by now. He wants a buyout from the Knicks so he can join another team, but the sides haven't had any face-to-face negotiations since a Dec. 1 meeting that went nowhere.

Marbury left a meeting with team president Donnie Walsh after about 20 minutes when he didn't get an offer he liked. Marbury has refused to give up more than $1 million of his nearly $21 million in salary.

Walsh then told him to stay away from the team while the sides continued working toward an agreement.

Marbury needs it to come soon if he wants to appear in the postseason. The Knicks must request waivers on him before March 1; otherwise he would be ineligible to play for another team in the playoffs.

Perhaps Marbury hoped the hearing would force the Knicks to renew negotiations before Tuesday to avoid another headache, but Walsh said it will happen.

"We're going to the hearing," Walsh said. "We didn't initiate it, but we're going to go."