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Seikaly Fails To Report to Jazz

February 19, 1998

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) _ Rony Seikaly was not expected to be in the lineup Wednesday night for the Utah Jazz as the status of his trade remained in doubt.

Jazz officials said Seikaly had not reported to the team by 4 p.m. MST, meaning that he would not have time to pass a physical and play in Utah’s game against the New York Knicks. The deadline for Seikaly to report was 8 p.m. MST.

Jan Porter, media relations for the Orlando Magic, said, as far as the team knew, Seikaly hadn’t left Florida.

``He had four different plane tickets and he didn’t get on any of the planes,″ Porter said. ``As of right now he’s not en route.″

The final plane leaving Miami, where Seikaly lives, was scheduled to depart at 5:29 EST.

Seikaly has threatened not to report to the Jazz unless the team restores his contract to its original form. The dispute could kill the deal in which the Jazz acquired Seikaly from the Orlando Magic for Greg Foster, Chris Morris and Utah’s 1998 first-round draft pick.

In Orlando, Foster and Morris, who reported on Tuesday, were not at the O-rena as the Magic prepared to take the floor against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Porter said. Both are ineligible to play for their new team until Seikaly reports to Utah.

If he doesn’t report, the teams can renegotiate the trade or kill it. The Orlando Sentinel reported Wednesday that the Jazz would opt to void the deal completely and send Seikaly back to Orlando.

Seikaly told an Orlando reporter that Utah stars John Stockton and Karl Malone talked to him on the phone and expressed excitement that he was joining the Jazz.

``I don’t know (if he will report),″ Steve Kauffman, Seikaly’s agent, told The Sentinel. ``I have no comment beyond that.″

Seikaly apparently wants the Jazz to guarantee the next two years of his contract, worth $8.5 million. Seikaly waived those guaranteed years at Orlando’s request so he could join the Magic at the start of last season.

``We’re still expecting him to report today,″ Jazz spokesman Mark Kelly said. ``We don’t have reason to believe the newspaper reports yet.″

The 6-foot-11 Seikaly averaged 17.3 points and 9.5 rebounds last season. Since 1985, when Karl Malone and John Stockton first played together for the Jazz, the team has not had a starting center average double figures in a season.

``It’s so hard to acquire centers in this day and age,″ said Scott Layden, Utah’s vice president of basketball operations.

On Monday, Seikaly said the trade was a great opportunity, that ``having a chance to play with two legends is the type of thing that you dream of.″

After practice Wednesday at Westminster College, Malone maintained his silence about the trade for the third day. Layden said Malone and Stockton ``very enthusiastically approved″ the deal.

In Atlanta, Seikaly was held out of the lineup Monday night while the Magic played the Hawks. He only found out about the deal after the game, and he appeared upset.

``I never thought the Magic would do this to me,″ Seikaly told the Sentinel. ``They at least could have had the decency to tell me what was going on.″

The Magic made the deal in part to clear salary cap room. Seikaly’s contract will pay him $4 million this season and has an option for 1998-99. Morris’ $3 million-per-year contract expires after this season, and Foster is in the second year of a three-year deal worth less than $3 million.

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