Thursday , Mar , 11 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Arbitrator rules Baker a free agent

New York, NY (Sports Network) – Vin Baker is allowed to play for any NBA team
this season after arbitrator Roger Kaplan overruled the league with his
decision on Thursday.

Initially, the NBA prevented Baker from signing with other clubs until his
grievance with the Boston Celtics was settled.

Baker, suspended indefinitely on January 23 for failing to comply with his
aftercare program stemming from alcohol abuse, had $35 million and 2 1/2 years
remaining on his deal.

His contract with the Celtics stipulated that if he did not return within 10
games, the team had the right to end the deal.

Baker was suspended for three games earlier in the season for failing to go to
his treatments. He left the team last season to address personal issues,
including alcohol-related problems.

The fear by the NBA was that Baker could be reinstated and return again to
Boston if he won his case. Kaplan ruled otherwise, stating that Baker is free
to play, while the status of his contract is undecided.

The four-time All-Star has admitted that he has a drinking problem. He missed
two months of the season last year, including the NBA playoffs after he
checked himself into a rehabilitation center.

The 11-year veteran came back strong this past season, scoring in double-
digits in 21 of his first 35 contests. However, he was suspended again in
January and fined $75,000 for violated his agreement with Boston.

Baker averaged 11.3 points and 5.7 rebounds in 37 games this year for Boston.

For his career, Baker has averaged 15.8 points per contest to go along with
7.8 rebounds. New York, Miami and Toronto might be possible suitors for the
power forward.