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Knicks Oust Grunfeld; Baker Injured

April 22, 1999| From Associated Press

Ernie Grunfeld took the fall Wednesday for the problems surrounding the New York Knicks as he was removed as president and general manager of the team.

Madison Square Garden President Dave Checketts, acknowledging a rift between Grunfeld and Coach Jeff Van Gundy, will take over the day-to-day operations for the rest of the season.

"The organization has not functioned well together," Checketts said in New York. "With what we've spent on salaries and what we've done as an organization, to be a .500 club and in ninth place is unacceptable.

The team's general manager and president since 1996 and a member of the front office since 1990, Grunfeld was reassigned to the job of special consultant.

Meanwhile, guard Latrell Sprewell was fined $25,000 by Checketts for critical comments made by his agent, Robert Gist, in Wednesday's New York Post.

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The Seattle SuperSonics lost starting forward Vin Baker for at least the rest of the regular season because of a bone contusion in his right knee. . . . Celtic forward-center Tony Battie pleaded not guilty in Boston to charges that he dragged a police officer behind his car after being told to move the vehicle on Saturday morning.

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