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Suns Close to Gugliotta Deal

January 22, 1999

PHOENIX (AP) _ With Antonio McDyess still not gone for sure, the Phoenix Suns apparently were proceeding Thursday night with plans to sign free agent Tom Gugliotta.

Earlier in the day, a source close to the situation said Gugliotta was close to an agreement with the Suns, even though he could make nearly $34 million more if he re-signed with Minnesota.

No contract had been signed, but a source said ``there is a substantial chance″ that Gugliotta would sign with Phoenix. Gugliotta was due to arrive in Phoenix late Thursday night.

The Suns said Thursday afternoon that they had renounced 10 free agents, including McDyess, to create some of the salary cap room that would be needed to sign Gugliotta. But later, they said that McDyess’ name was included erroneously and that he had not been renounced.

That raised speculation that he still was considering re-signing with Phoenix. McDyess’ deal with Denver hit a snag and the news conference to announce his signing with the Nuggets was called off. A short time later, Suns owner Jerry Colangelo declined to say whether his team still would consider re-signing McDyess.

``I really can’t make any comment about what’s going on, but it’s interesting to say the least,″ Colangelo said. ``We’ll just have to see what transpires.″

The Suns scheduled their first workout for Friday morning, although it was uncertain how many players would be there.

Phoenix has five players under contract, but three of them are set to go to Chicago in a sign-and-trade deal that would bring Luc Longley to the Suns. Longley was in Phoenix this week and one of the three players to be traded to Chicago, Mark Bryant, was at the Bulls’ workout on Thursday.

Martin Muursepp and Bubba Wells also are to go to Chicago in that trade, which apparently was being held up while the Gugliotta-McDyess situation was settled.

Suns general manager Bryan Colangelo said Wednesday night that the team would be able to clear a maximum of about $8 million to offer a free agent. That’s short of the $9 million maximum allowed under the new collective bargaining agreement, but the figures were close enough that it wouldn’t be a problem, a source said.

The six-year, $52.8 million contract would contain a clause allowing Gugliotta out of the deal after five years, when he would be eligible for a much bigger raise as a 10-year veteran.

Gugliotta averaged 20.1 points per game for the Timberwolves last season but missed 41 games after undergoing foot surgery.

He could have made $86 million over seven years by re-signing with Minnesota but has indicated all along that the money would not prevent him from signing with a team that he felt was the right fit for him.

Bryan Colangelo identified the 6-foot-10 forward as one of the ``big three″ free agents up for grabs this season. The others were Scottie Pippen, expected to be signed by Chicago and traded to Houston, and McDyess.

Gugliotta, 29, played four seasons in Minnesota after two seasons with the Washington Bullets.

The Suns did not renounce Clifford Robinson or Rex Chapman. Robinson’s agent Brad Marshall told Phoenix radio station KATR Thursday afternoon that Robinson had reached a five-year, $30 million contract agreement, but wouldn’t confirm that when the McDyess situation developed later in the day.

Chapman’s agent David Falk, who represents nine other free agents, was unavailable for comment.

The Suns renounced the rights to Kevin Johnson, George McCloud, Mike Brown, Horacio Llamas, Loren Meyer, Marko Milic, Dennis Scott, Wayman Tisdale and Hot Rod Williams.

Johnson is gone for sure and Tisdale is retired from the NBA but still has money charged to Phoenix’s salary cap. The NBA has eliminated the 56-day waiting period to re-sign renounced free agents, meaning the Suns might be able to able to re-sign some of its renounced players later.

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