Gugliotta Leaves Suns Without Deal
Jan. 23, 1999
PHOENIX (AP) _ Tom Gugliotta left Phoenix on Friday without reaching a contract agreement with the Suns and has asked for a meeting with Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor.
Suns owner Jerry Colangelo said he expects Gugliotta to reach a decision by late Saturday. Colangelo said the free agent forward apparently is considering re-signing with Minnesota.
``I guess that's the viable option he has, that or some kind of sign-and-trade,'' Colangelo said.
Taylor said he got a call Friday from Gugliotta's agent, Richard Howell, asking for a meeting.
``My understanding is that they have an offer from Phoenix and they are in the decision-making mode,'' Taylor said. ``I said if Tommy wants to meet with me, certainly I would meet with him.''
Gugliotta was returning to Minneapolis and apparently planned to meet with Taylor on Saturday.
``Let's say they come back and want us to work out a trade and have something they want us to help them with, I would sit down and talk to them,'' Taylor said.
He said he also would be open to signing Gugliotta to a one-year deal.
The Suns could offer Gugliotta a six-year deal worth about $60 million. Minnesota could give him $86 million over seven years, the maximum allowed for a team to re-sign one of its players. Phoenix's offer presumably would include a clause that would allow Gugliotta to opt out after five years and become eligible for a much bigger salary as a 10-year veteran.
Gugliotta arrived in Phoenix late Thursday night, in the midst of the bizarre Antonio McDyess situation, and met at America West Arena with Colangelo, his son, general manager Bryan Colangelo, and coach Danny Ainge.
``We had a lot of positive feedback,'' Ainge joked, ``but, hey, I had a year of positive feedback from McDyess, too.''
Gugliotta reportedly was close to a deal with the Suns on Thursday, before word spread that McDyess was reconsidering his decision to abandon Phoenix and sign with the Denver Nuggets.
McDyess finally signed with Denver on Friday, and with Gugliotta leaving town without a contract agreement, the Suns faced the prospect of winding up without either player.
``I'm very nervous, no question about it,'' Ainge said.
If they lose Gugliotta, there were fewer and fewer free agents who haven't already committed to a team.
``We're taking a little bit of a gamble,'' Ainge said. ``We let some guys go who are good basketball players but aren't Tom Gugliotta. That's why being on Jerry Colangelo's side is a great comfort, because he's not afraid. Some people are afraid in this business and bailed out on Tom Gugliotta. We're playing a risky a business here, but sometimes you've got to take a risk to get a break.''
Colangelo declined to say whether he was optimistic that Gugliotta would sign with the Suns.
``We'll just have to wait and see,'' he said.
Howell did not return repeated telephone calls to his office on Friday.
The Timberwolves agreed to terms with free agent Joe Smith on Friday, but he did not sign a contract. Colangelo said that even if Smith signed, it wouldn't affect Minnesota's ability to re-sign Gugliotta.
Earlier, there had been reports that the Los Angeles Lakers were interested in a sign-and-trade deal with the Timberwolves that would send Eddie Jones, Elden Campbell and Sam Jacobsen to Minnesota for Gugliotta.
Gugliotta's indecision was holding up several other Suns moves, including re-signing free agents Rex Chapman and Clifford Robinson.
The Suns did sign five lesser players on Friday, including second-round draft pick Toby Bailey. The others were Joe Kleine, Horacia Llamas, Marko Milik and James Collins.
Chapman, Jason Kidd and George McCloud all flew by charter to Denver Thursday night to talk to McDyess, after the young forward held up signing with the Nuggets at the last minute.
The Suns were awaiting for Chicago general manager Jerry Krause to finish a sign-and-trade deal that sends Luc Longley to Phoenix. Longley is in Phoenix and is working out informally. He said he was confident the deal would be approved. Phoenix is sending Mark Bryant, Martin Muursepp and Bubba Wells to the Bulls.