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Carter offers way out for Camby

If Marcus Camby plans to patch things up with Toronto Raptors coach Butch Carter, he isn't letting on.

But Carter seems to like the idea that his $5 million defamation suit against the Knicks forward has been keeping some of the focus away from Toronto's young stars during the teams' first-round playoff series.

Camby twice glared in Carter's direction following baskets for New York, mouthing an expletive after the second, during the Knicks' 92-88 win over Toronto in the series opener on Sunday.

Carter filed suit on Friday in New York Supreme Court against Camby because the Knicks forward reportedly called the coach "a liar." But the coach said on Sunday that the suit would go away if Camby apologised.

Camby wouldn't extend an olive branch - on or off the court.

With Toronto's sideline at the same end of the floor as New York's basket in the second quarter, Camby let neither of his only two field goals pass without a deliberate look toward Carter.

After the game, Camby dismissed the posturing - "That's not me trying to egg stuff on," he said - but wouldn't say whether he would try to make amends with his former coach.

Toronto traded Camby to New York after the 1997-98 season, a move at the root of the current flap.

Camby finished with more personal fouls (five) than points (four) in 24 minutes.

Butch Carter, who's also been in the news lately for his book that accuses Bobby Knight of racism and for verbal sparring with Bucks coach George Karl, indicated some of the stir might have been by design.

"The main thing is I kept the media off (Vince Carter and McGrady)," Toronto's coach said. "I just couldn't keep Sprewell and Houston off them."

The suit stems from comments attributed to Camby by the New York Daily News on Wednesday. Camby said that, shortly before Toronto traded the forward, Carter promised that the Raptors would build their team around him.

"He is a liar," Camby was quoted as saying. "I don't like him. No one likes him and no one wants to play for him. That's the kind of guy he is."

Carter said he's been trying to put the legal, and personal, battle out of his mind.

"I don't want to come in here and be angry at Marcus Camby. I don't have time to be angry. I've got a basketball team to coach," Carter said. "It would be a start if we could just talk. There's nothing for me to do. I will not slap an extended hand."