The Knicks have decided to fine the missing Latrell Sprewell, who stayed absent from training camp yesterday with no explanation.

The team will hold its final practice this morning before returning to New York, and it now appears Sprewell will miss the entire camp.

The New York Times reported in today's editions that Sprewell had driven across the country from Oakland, Calif., stopping in Milwaukee, and checked back into the hotel in Westchester County, N.Y., where he lived last season. A Knicks spokeswoman could not confirm the report.

"At some point, you have to take disciplinary action," said GM Scott Layden, who would not disclose the exact amount of the fine.

The Knicks can fine Sprewell $2,500 for his first two missed practices and $5,000 for every missed practice thereafter. If the team fines him the maximum for every missed practice since Wednesday, Sprewell will be out $30,000.

"Discipline is an important part of any team, and obviously it's a real important part of this team," Coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "It's not about anybody making an example of anybody, it's about doing the right things, doing what you're supposed to do. What I want to do more than anything is get it resolved so we can get on with the season. I don't want to be talking about this every day for a long period of time."

HARPER TO LAKERS?: Ron Harper could join the Lakers before the regular season begins, GM Mitch Kupchak said. Harper, a starting point guard on the Bulls' championship teams, is still contemplating retirement or joining his old coach, Phil Jackson, on the Lakers' roster.

Meantime, the Lakers granted rookie Melvin Levett's request to be released. Levett, an honorable mention all-American in 1998 with the University of Cincinnati, was acquired from the Pistons after the 1999 draft for G Derek Harper.

GRANT OUT: F Tyrone Grant, a rookie free agent competing for a job with the Hornets, broke his left hand and will miss the rest of training camp. The 6-foot-7 Grant, who played at St. John's, was injured when he collided with a teammate during a drill. The Hornets said Grant was expected to be out at least four weeks.