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Knicks sign Vin Baker


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ESPN.com news services

Vin Baker, who was declared a free agent by an arbitrator on Thursday, has chosen the New York Knicks over the Miami Heat, a source familiar with the situation told Bloomberg News on Friday.



The former All-Star had the remaining two years and $35 million of his contract voided by the Celtics on Feb. 18 after he was suspended twice for violating his alcohol-treatment program. He has filed a grievance to get the contract reinstated, and an arbitrator will hear the case next month. Baker will earn the prorated portion of the veteran's minimum salary of $1 million, or about $11,000 a game.



Baker will join the Knicks tonight in Philadelphia for their game against the 76ers, the source told Bloomberg.



In Baker's grievance against the NBA, which was argued Monday, arbitrator Roger Kaplan invalidated a league memo barring all 29 teams from signing Baker until his other grievance -- against the Boston Celtics -- is settled.



Baker's agent, Aaron Goodwin, spent the latter part of Thursday speaking with the Knicks and Heat when Baker decided he did not want to play for the Raptors -- the third team that was pursuing him until the NBA sent out its March 1 memo barring any team from signing Baker.



Kaplan set an initial hearing date of April 12 for Baker's case against the Celtics, who terminated the remaining 2? years of Baker's contract -- worth $35 million -- after he missed 10 games while on suspension for violating terms of his alcohol treatment program.



The NBA argued if Baker were to win his case against Boston, he'd have to return to the Celtics because his contract would be reinstated. The players' union argued Baker should have a right to seek employment elsewhere while his case against the Celtics is pending.



Kaplan ruled the NBA's memo violated articles 11 and 14 of the collective bargaining agreement, which deal with free agency and collusion, union spokesman Dan Wasserman said.



"Clearly the NBA and Boston have to be concerned about this preliminary ruling," union director Billy Hunter said. "We're confident that when the matter is heard we'll get a favorable ruling in the underlying case."



The union advised Baker that if he signs with the Knicks or Heat, it should only be for the remainder of this season. Additional hearings in Baker's case against the Celtics were set for April 13, 26 and 27.



"We obviously disagree with the arbitrator's decision, but have elected not to appeal and to allow Mr. Baker to sign a contract with another team," Rick Buchanan, NBA senior vice president and general counsel, said in a statement.



Baker, a member of the 2000 U.S. Olympic team, was averaging 11.0 points and 5.7 rebounds for Boston before being suspended.



Information from The Associated Press was used in this report


I don't know why teams want to sign him since he always get in trouble. I just hope he'll help out the Knicks. I liked Baker when he was in the Sonics and the Bucks.

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