NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Knicks are free of Stephon Marbury, and the troublesome point guard is free to join a playoff contender.
Marbury was waived Tuesday by the Knicks, ending a turbulent five-year stint in which the former All-Star couldn't lead his hometown team to a single playoff victory.
The team released a statement saying an agreement between the Knicks and Marbury had been reached, but did not disclose financial terms. Knicks president Donnie Walsh has said the team and Marbury have been trying to work out a buyout.
Walsh's hope was to get something for Marbury in a trade, but with Marbury's salary of close to $21 million this season and a divisive personality, he knew a deal was improbable.
Marbury would be eligible to play in the postseason for any team that signs him because he was waived by March 1. He has been linked to the Boston Celtics, who are in need of a backup guard with Tony Allen injured.
"The Celtics are focused on defending our championship and are working day and night to finalize our playoff roster," owner Wyc Grousbeck said. "We don't have anything to announce at this point except that we intend to do everything we can to raise Banner 18."
Though perhaps the most talented player on the roster, Marbury hadn't played in a game this season as new coach Mike D'Antoni preferred to stick with the players who would be part of the Knicks' future. He never gave the temperamental guard a chance to cause the same troubles for him that he did for Larry Brown and Isiah Thomas.
The Knicks' statement also said Marbury's grievance against the Knicks had been resolved. The sides attended an arbitration hearing earlier Tuesday regarding the nearly $400,000 in salary the team had docked the point guard after alleging he refused D'Antoni's request to play in a game in Detroit in November when the team was short-handed.
He then publicly criticized D'Antoni and said he could never play for the coach because he didn't trust him. Marbury sought his departure soon after that episode, but hadn't met face-to-face with Walsh since Dec. 1, when he left a meeting after just 20 minutes because they weren't close on a buyout agreement.
Marbury had previously refused to surrender more than $1 million of the remaining $20.8 million on his contract. It's unclear what he gave up Tuesday to secure his release.
The Celtics and Miami Heat are the teams that are most frequently mentioned as possible destinations. Whatever team signs Marbury will get a player who hasn't played in a regular-season game in more than a year.
Walsh acknowledged being concerned about Marbury joining a team that the Knicks could face down the line. The Knicks could have held onto him past the deadline, but Walsh said Monday he preferred to work out an arrangement that benefitted both sides.
"You want to do the right thing," he said, "by the player and you. I mean the team."
Marbury, a Brooklyn native and New York schoolboy star, was long a crowd favorite following his return home in a trade with Phoenix in January 2004. But his departure had been expected for months after he alienated Knicks management, teammates and fans last season, the worst of his career.
Before posting his poorest offensive numbers, he drew criticism for both his erratic behavior in a televised interview, and his testimony about a sexual encounter with a team intern during a sexual harassment trial against Thomas and MSG.
The season had barely started when Marbury ditched the team in Phoenix following a spat with Thomas, sending the Knicks into a downward spiral from which they never recovered. He scored a career-worst 13.9 points per game, nearly six below his average, while playing in only 24 games, his fewest since entering the NBA as the No. 4 pick of the 1996 draft.
He had a long absence in December following the death of his father, then had season-ending ankle surgery in January.
There was speculation the Knicks would cut Marbury over the summer, but Walsh told him to come back in great shape, which he did. However, the Knicks began planning for Marbury's departure in July, when they signed Chris Duhon and said he would compete for the starting point guard job.
But there never was a competition. Duhon was the starter from the opening of training camp, with Marbury making only one start — as a small forward — in the preseason. He didn't play in the season opener, a surprise since he played so well in exhibition games, then had been inactive in the remaining games before Walsh ordered him to stay away from the team following the failed Dec. 1 meeting.
D'Antoni's explanation for refusing to use Marbury was that he had too much stature as a two-time All-Star and former Olympian to be given spotty minutes as a backup. More likely, he was simply looking to avoid the public feuds that Marbury engaged with under both Brown and Thomas.
D'Antoni briefly had Marbury in Phoenix before the Suns traded Marbury to the Knicks in January 2004, a deal that cleared the cap space necessary for them to sign Steve Nash that summer and become one of the league's top teams.
Things didn't work out nearly as well for the Knicks.
That trade was Thomas' first big move, coming just two weeks after he was hired as Knicks president. Marbury helped lead New York to the playoffs that season, but the Knicks were swept by New Jersey in the first round and haven't been back since.
Marbury has never won a playoff series, part of the reason he is considered a poor team player despite his numerous individual talents. He will likely get another shot now.
AP Sports Writer Jimmy Golen contributed to this report.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.