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Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2011

Davis answers New York call


GREENBURGH, New York — Baron Davis' desire to play in New York outweighed the chance to play with Kobe Bryant or LeBron James.

News photo
Siren's song: Veteran point guard Baron Davis says the allure of joining the New York Knicks was just too great to resist. AP

The veteran point guard signed with the Knicks on Monday, passing up a chance to join stronger teams because he said he always saw himself playing at Madison Square Garden.

"I always kind of rise to the occasion when I'm playing against the Knicks and playing in the Garden," Davis said at the Knicks' training facility. "It's just an unbelievable opportunity and I'm ready to accept the challenge."

Not yet, however. A herniated disc in his back has sidelined Davis all preseason, an injury he's heard could keep him out eight to 10 weeks. But Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni hopes it will be much sooner, and the team is willing to wait for the chance to add a veteran to an inexperienced starting backcourt.

"The first order of business is just get him healthy and make sure that when he is able to play, he's ready to go," D'Antoni said. "If we get to that point, which hopefully we will, we've got one of the better point guards in the league, just adds another weapon to already a pretty good group."

The Cleveland Cavaliers waived Davis last week and designated him as their amnesty player so the $28 million he was owed over the remaining two years of his contract wouldn't count against their salary cap figure. No team claimed him, so he was free to sign with anyone.

His hometown Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat both called, and Davis said he even spoke to players on both teams. But he said his mind was already made up that if he got to free agency, he was going to New York — and he even agreed to accept the veteran's minimum salary, worth about $1.4 million, to do so.

"Those teams did call and I have a great respect for both organizations, but for me it was just the opportunity to play in New York, play in the Garden, play for these fans, and to play on this team," Davis said.

Biyombo joins Bobcats


CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA — Forward Bismack Biyombo signed a rookie contract with the Charlotte Bobcats hours after agreeing to pay a buyout clause to release him from his contract with Spanish club Fuenlabrada.

Terms of his new deal were not disclosed.

Biyombo would not play in Monday night's preseason opener against the Hawks because he hasn't had a chance to practice with the team, coach Paul Silas said. Silas said Biyombo would begin to practice Tuesday and would play in Thursday night's game at Atlanta.

Fuenlabrada said Monday that Biyombo had agreed to pay the $1.5 million clause that will free him from the remaining two years of his contract. The Bobcats agreed to pay $525,000 of that — the most allowed by international rules — according to Rod Higgins, the Bobcats' director of basketball operations.

Bobcats owner Michael Jordan had agreed to pay that before the team drafted Biyombo.

Biyombo had to watch his teammates from the sideline during training camp while he worked on the side.

"If you just saw him during the practice session, he was sitting over there about as depressed as I've ever seen anyone," Silas said. "Now when I first walked in, he had his hands in the air and smiling."

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