- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 26, 2009

GREENBURGH, N.Y. | Stephon Marbury hasn’t been around much in the last year, so the New York Knicks had little reaction now that he won’t be back.

To them, he already was gone and forgotten.

“He hasn’t really been seen in a little while,” forward David Lee said Wednesday after the Knicks’ morning shootaround. “It’s almost somewhat of a dead issue for us because we knew at some point it would probably happen.”

Marbury’s exit may have taken longer than expected - there was some surprise he was even with the team when training camp opened - but the Knicks haven’t been spending much time thinking about their former captain.

“It’s not like, ‘Oh now we can really play basketball. We’re not distracted,’ ” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “We weren’t distracted before.”

Nor does D’Antoni have any regrets about the way he handled his time with Marbury.

“We said all along, tough situation,” D’Antoni said. “We weren’t on the same page.”

The Knicks and Marbury finally parted ways Tuesday after reaching a buyout on the remainder of his contract that expires following this season. The point guard will be free to join a playoff contender once he clears waivers, and he’s already been linked to the Boston Celtics.

Nobody knows how much he will help, though, since he hasn’t played a regular-season game in more than a year.

“We’ll see. I don’t know,” Knicks forward Quentin Richardson said. “I don’t know what he’s been doing. I assume he’s been working out or whatever. I mean, only thing I can say is time will tell. Good luck to him.”

Though Marbury had still been a member of the Knicks, he wasn’t a part of the team much toward the end of his turbulent time in New York. He took a long leave of absence last season after his father died in early December, then had season-ending ankle surgery in January. His last official game was Jan. 11, 2008.

He was back with the team in training camp and early in the season before team president Donnie Walsh ordered him to stay away Dec. 1 while the sides worked toward the buyout of the remaining $20.8 million Marbury was set to earn in the final year of his deal.

In the meantime, the only time the Knicks saw him was when he bought a ticket and sat courtside when they visited the Los Angeles Lakers in December.

None of the players who spoke Wednesday criticized Marbury - though Richardson ripped him after Marbury declined to play when the team was short-handed in November - but they surely won’t miss the distractions he caused.

Marbury was at the center of numerous controversies during his five years in New York, from feuding with coaches to skipping games. So while the former Brooklyn schoolboy star’s arrival may have been celebrated when he returned home in January 2004, his departure is probably just as popular with his former teammates.

“For whatever reason the match didn’t work out,” Lee said, “and we’re moving on.”

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