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Judge: Spre can sue paper

A state Supreme Court judge ruled that Knicks guard Latrell Sprewell can proceed with his $40-million lawsuit against the New York Post and one of its writers, saying statements made by the News Corp. tabloid may be considered libelous.

The Post had sought dismissal of the suit, which Sprewell filed in October against the paper and staff writer Marc Berman.

Sprewell accused the tabloid of publishing "damaging fabrications" about how he broke his hand. Spre-well missed the first eight games of last season because of the injury, which the paper said occurred during an altercation on his boat.

The newspaper reported Sprewell broke his hand after throwing a punch at a man aboard his yacht, citing two unidentified eyewitnesses.

The suit said the articles were "published with actual malice, exposing Mr. Sprewell to public ridicule, contempt, aversion, disgrace and induced evil opinions of him in the minds of right-thinking persons."

Judge Marcy S. Friedman in her ruling wrote that the statements in the Post's articles are "reasonably susceptible" to be considered defamatory. Such statements would, if believed by the jury, constitute libel, she wrote.

The NBA in 1997 suspended Sprewell for 68 games for choking Golden State coach P.J. Carlesimo. The Post said that case had damaged Sprewell's reputation and cited it as a reason to dismiss the lawsuit. But Friedman ruled Sprewell's reputation could be further damaged.

BUCKS: Guard Anthony Peeler was waived, 10 days after he was acquired in a trade with Minnesota.

SONICS: Power forward Nick Collison, a first-round pick out of Kansas, agreed to a contract. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

WARRIORS: First-round pick Mickael Pietrus signed a three-year deal. Pietrus, the 11th overall selection, is 6-6 and a three-time All-Star in the French league.


ALL-STAR SUBS: Connecticut's Nykesha Sales and Los Angeles' Nikki Teasley were added as injury replacements for Saturday's game.