NEW YORK -- Patrick Ewing has filed for an arbitration hearing against the New York Knicks that could result in his becoming an immediate free agent and possibly even leaving the team before next season.
The move abruptly ends speculation that the Knicks and their franchise center were close to an amicable resolution of differences over Ewing's contract.
Ewing's lawyer, David Falk, and Knicks officials said Ewing turned down a new contract that would have made him the highest-paid player in team sports, exceeding the $5.3 million a year contract extension that Roger Clemens signed with the Boston Red Sox this year. Falk said the Knicks made the offer in April, and Ewing turned it down in early June. Ewing then filed for arbitration on June 21.
"Patrick wants freedom of choice before he makes a commitment to New York for the rest of his career," Falk said.
At issue is a clause in the $32 million, 10-year contract that Ewing signed on Sept. 18, 1985, which allows him to become a restricted free agent after his sixth season if he is not among the four highest-paid players in the National Basketball Association.
As a restricted free agent, Ewing, who just completed his sixth season, would be free to negotiate with other teams, but the Knicks would retain the right to match any offer.