By KEN PETERS
AP Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES -- Stephon Marbury grinned as he made his way down the hall to the New York Knicks' locker room, back in the fold but out some $182,000 because of a fine.
After skipping the game in Phoenix the previous night, Marbury flew from New York to Los Angeles to join the Knicks for their Wednesday night game against the Clippers.
"We had a conversation, and any conversations that we have within our team, we'll try to keep those as private and in-house matters," New York coach Isiah Thomas said.
He said Marbury would not start, but would play.
Asked if he's satisfied everything is smoothed over, Thomas didn't answer directly but said: "I'm satisfied that I believe he's capable of leading this team and he's capable of playing great defense. When I see those two things, I think our team can take another step in this league.
"Unfortunately, lessons in life have to be learned on a public stage. He's a kid that made it out of Coney Island, and I think what I'm asking him to do, he's capable of doing. As I said to him before, if he can't do it, we'll have to find someone who can."
Marbury, surrounded by reporters in front of his locker, said, "This is not my battle to fight. I'm here to play basketball, and I'm just going to concentrate on that.
"I'm going to leave it internal, like Isiah said, and I will respect if everyone can just respect that. That's it. That's all I really have to say about this."
Asked if he had apologized to his teammates, Marbury said, "I plan to just tell them that this is something that has to do with Isiah and myself."
The Knicks' Zach Randolph, who had been given time off after his grandmother died, also rejoined the team, although he plans to return to Indiana for the funeral later this week.
"I just wanted to be here for my team," Randolph said.
He said of the team turmoil, "Stephon and coach got this situation going on, but they're going to work it out."
Although Cleveland star LeBron James, said he doesn't know Marbury, he was critical of his just taking off from the Knicks.
"I couldn't have a guy like that on my team," James said, before the Cavaliers' game with visiting Orlando.
Earlier Wednesday, the Knicks fined Marbury more than $180,000 for missing the Suns game, the latest clash between the disgruntled point guard and Thomas.
The Knicks sent Marbury a letter informing him of the fine, according to a person with knowledge of the penalty who spoke to The Associated Press on Wednesday. He requested anonymity because he wasn't authorized to discuss it. The Knicks would not confirm the fine.
According to the NBA's collective bargaining agreement, players are docked 1/110th of their salaries for a missed game without a reasonable excuse. With Marbury scheduled to earn $20.1 million this season, that would be about $182,800.
Thomas brought Marbury back to his hometown in a trade with the Suns on Jan. 5, 2004, and the two enjoyed a close relationship while Thomas was solely the team president. Things changed when he also took on the job of coach before last season.
They clashed early last year after Thomas benched him in the second halves of two games, though they patched things up and Marbury played well the second half of the season.
Still, any problems on the court were minor compared to Marbury's strange summer.
He behaved erratically during a televised interview, then testified in a sexual harassment trial against Thomas and Madison Square Garden that he had a sexual encounter in his truck with a team intern. Marbury was smiling and singing on his way out of the courthouse.
Marbury also was forced to apologize after defending Michael Vick's participation in dogfighting.
The Knicks hoped their summer of woes would be forgotten once the season started. Instead they've blown up on their first road trip.
Marbury played poorly down the stretch in New York's 75-72 home loss to Miami on Sunday, and the New York Daily News reported Tuesday the Knicks were trying to reduce Marbury's role or get rid of him entirely.
That created tensions between Marbury and Thomas, Westchester County neighbors who share the same agent. The two reportedly even fought on the plane to Phoenix, which the Knicks denied.
"There is no truth to that whatsoever," said Knicks spokesman Jonathan Supranowitz, who was on the flight.
Marbury then left the team in Phoenix, telling the New York Post on Tuesday he had permission from Thomas. Thomas would not confirm that, but did say the team would welcome Marbury back.
Marbury is still one of the Knicks' best players, averaging 15.2 points and 6.8 assists. He is under contract with the Knicks through next season, scheduled to earn about $42 million. That makes him difficult to trade, especially since he has created problems off the court and never won a playoff series on it.
AP Basketball Writer Brian Mahoney and AP Sports Writer Tom Withers contributed to this report.