Thomas changes lineup and will challenge Marbury

Stephon Marbury is out of sight, but certainly not out of the Knicks' minds.

The point guard did not accompany the team south for its game Wednesday against the Orlando Magic, but he was still part of the pregame conversation: Coach Isiah Thomas indicated the club would fight the grievance that Marbury filed, which stemmed from his being fined a game's pay for skipping a trip to Phoenix in mid-November.

Thomas said the Knicks would not reconsider the fine, which approaches $200,000 of the $20-million-plus salary Marbury is scheduled to make this season.

There were conflicting reports Tuesday over whether Marbury would be available for Wednesday's game. Thomas did not pin down the player's return, telling reporters he spoke with Marbury "two or three days ago" and adding, "We are expecting him back at some point in time."

Marbury has missed seven of his team's last 11 games following the death of his father on Dec. 2. The Knicks have gone 3-8 during that stretch.

Marbury took his third leave last Thursday after skipping practice because of a combination of flu-like symptoms and personal reasons. He was in uniform but did not play in New York's win over Cleveland the night before.

The Knicks, who fell to 8-20 after a 110-96 loss in Orlando, have also been dealing with rumors regarding the job status of Thomas.

Thomas did shake up the lineup against the Magic, bringing forward Zach Randolph off the bench and starting David Lee. They were both effective, but center Eddy Curry picked up two early fouls, played only five minutes and scored two points.