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Penny to Suns Deal Looks Imminent

August 5, 1999

The Orlando Magic have a choice: Pull the trigger on a trade sending Penny Hardaway to Phoenix or pull the plug on the whole affair and let the one-time superstar fend for himself on a less-than-open market.

``It’s a huge decision for us, obviously,″ said general manager John Gabriel, who was spending nearly all his waking hours in his office, talking with team personnel and representatives for Hardaway. ``I was in here until midnight with the coach (Doc Rivers) trying to work this out.″

All but one of the teams that made bids for Hardaway dropped out of the picture by Wednesday morning, leaving Phoenix’s offer of Danny Manning, Pat Garrity and draft picks the only decent option on the table.

``He’s told us he wants to be here. We’ve finalized the contract, and now we’re waiting for Orlando to pull the trigger,″ Suns president Jerry Colangelo said.

There was talk that Orlando might, out of spite, throw a wrench into Hardaway’s plans _ and Phoenix’s _ by refusing to sign and trade him, thereby forcing Hardaway to sign with Chicago, the Clippers or Toronto if he wanted anything approaching the seven-year, $92 million deal he would get from Phoenix.

Gabriel, however, said such a scenario would ``probably not″ happen.

A Hardaway trade would send Orlando deep into a rebuilding mode, with three starters from last season gone via trades.

The Magic will have three first-round picks in next year’s draft _ their own, Denver’s and Golden State’s _ all of which could be lottery picks. The Magic also would be about $10 million under the salary cap entering the 2001-02 season.

Elsewhere around the league:

_The Los Angeles Clippers and Cleveland Cavaliers pulled off the day’s only trade, a sign-and-trade deal that sent Lamond Murray to Cleveland for Derek Anderson and Johnny Newman.

_The Sacramento Kings stayed busy, signing Clippers free-agent point guard Darrick Martin and re-signing free agent forward Lawrence Funderburke.

_Indiana Pacers general manager Donnie Walsh told the Indianapolis News that the Boston Celtics approached him offering Antoine Walker. The Pacers also were known to be pursuing a sign-and-trade deal with the Clippers for Lorenzen Wright.

_Miami signed free-agent forward Otis Thorpe, who played for Washington last season, averaging 11.3 points and 6.8 rebounds.

_Terry Porter, who played for the Heat last season, is reportedly close to signing with San Antonio.

_Miami was reportedly trying to find a third team with salary-cap space to facilitate a three-way trade that would bring Wizards free agent Mitch Richmond to the Heat.

Cavaliers general manager Jim Paxson said Anderson’s contract status was one factor behind his trade to the Clippers. Anderson, entering the final year of his three-year rookie contract, was seeking a seven-year, $60 million extension from the Cavs.

Clippers general manager Elgin Baylor said his team would not immediately offer Anderson an extension.

``We need to get to know Derek, see how he plays and how well he fits in. That’s something we need to see, and then we can talk about that.″

Murray, who lost his starting job with the Clippers last season after 13 games, agreed to a seven-year, $25 million contract.

Paxson said it’s hard to judge anyone based on last year’s strike-shortened season, and he sees Murray as someone who adds depth to the roster and keep defenses from collapsing on Cleveland big men Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Shawn Kemp.

Murray said he’s excited to play for Cleveland after five losing seasons with the Clippers. He averaged 12.2 points last year.

``It was roller-coaster ride throughout the five years I was there,″ he said. ``I never knew where I stood in terms of the organization. It was a difficult time for me.″

The Clippers have now lost free agents Murray, Martin and Rodney Rogers. They stand to lose a fourth, Wright, but were expected to pull off another sign-and-trade deal for him.

``It’s narrowing down now, but there are still quite a few teams that have called with an interest in Lorenzen,″ Baylor said. ``There isn’t anything that has come up thus far that would be acceptable.″

Tyrone Nesby and Eric Piatkowski are the Clippers’ other free agents.

Funderburke, 28, averaged 9.2 points and 4.6 rebounds for two seasons with the Kings. Last season, the 6-foot-9 forward shot a team-leading 55.9 percent from the field while averaging 8.9 points.

A five-year NBA veteran, Martin averaged 8.0 points and 3.9 assists for the Clippers last year.

``Darrick provides us with an experienced point guard who has started a number of games over his NBA career,″ Sacramento general manager Geoff Petrie said. ``Along with Jason Williams, Darrick solidifies our situation at point guard, which was a position this offseason we wanted to address.″

The Kings, who acquired Nick Anderson from Orlando on Tuesday, are expected to re-sign forward Corliss Williamson later this week.

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