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More Delays, Rumors for NBA

January 20, 1999

NEW YORK (AP) _ Dennis Rodman dropped out, Antonio McDyess deliberated, Rod Strickland wavered and the NBA lockout settlement was delayed once again.

It was another day of waiting, wondering and waffling Tuesday, with the start of training camps and the onslaught of trades and free agent signings pushed back until Thursday as lawyers for owners and players haggled over the fine print of the new collective bargaining agreement.

``It’ll get done. It always gets done,″ agent David Falk said. ``This just gives us more time to talk to people and refine our numbers.″

The best example of the craziness was the ``retirement″ of Rodman.

Hours after his agent, Dwight Manley, announced Rodman was leaving the game for good, the NBA’s most outlandish player denied it.

``I’m not going to play this year,″ Rodman told Fox Sports News. ``I am in limbo, but I’m not going to say I’m retired.″

That’s not how his former coach heard it. In a strange twist earlier in the day, Chuck Daly of the Orlando Magic said he had heard Rodman had been traded to the New York Knicks for Buck Williams _ a rumor that was quickly shot down.

Rodman, whose multicolored hair, body piercings and tattoos made a fashion statement across the NBA and beyond, has become the latest star to leave Chicago as the Bulls rebuild after the retirement of Michael Jordan.

For now, the league loses a seven-time rebounding leader who once donned a wedding gown, kicked a cameraman, head-butted a referee, dated Madonna and married Carmen Electra.

Falk’s top free agent client, Strickland, was reportedly miffed at the offer being made by the Washington Wizards. Falk refused to comment on the status of Strickland’s negotiations, but talk around the league was that the point guard was considering signing with another team.

McDyess, meanwhile, put off for another day a decision on where he’ll play _ Denver or Phoenix.

``It defies logic in my opinion,″ Suns owner Jerry Colangelo said. ``We think this is a great spot for him. He seemed very happy here. We love him as a young guy and a future star in this league. But a lot of things have happened this offseason.″

If McDyess chooses to move, it will leave the Suns scrambling to execute a backup plan. There was widespread speculation that they would turn their attention toward Tom Gugliotta, who was thought to have narrowed his choices to staying with the Minnesota Timberwolves or joining the Nuggets.

The Nuggets also were wondering whether they would be spurned by Gugliotta in the event that McDyess stays in Phoenix. If so, they were expected to look to sign free-agent center Vlade Divac.

The Lakers, too, were trying to get Gugliotta in a sign-and-trade deal with the Timberwolves. A source close to the team said Los Angeles was offering Elden Campbell, Eddie Jones and rookie Sam Jacobsen.

Divac flew back from Europe on Tuesday, and will have a choice of signing with Denver, Phoenix or Sacramento.

Also Tuesday, it was learned that John Starks and Chris Mills are the players who will be traded from the Knicks to the Golden State Warriors for Latrell Sprewell. Word of the Sprewell trade got out Monday night, just a few hours after another major trade was revealed _ Scottie Pippen going from the Chicago Bulls to the Houston Rockets.

The Bulls also have sign-and-trade deals worked out for Luc Longley and Steve Kerr, and a sign-and-trade deal of Scott Burrell for Brent Barry was a possibility.

Colangelo confirmed that the Suns will trade three of the five players they have under contract _ Mark Bryant, Martin Muursepp and Bubba Wells _ for Longley.

In another agreed-upon deal, the Seattle SuperSonics were set to send center Jim McIlvaine to the New Jersey Nets for veteran forwards Michael Cage and Don MacLean.

The Utah Jazz were expected to sign Nuggets free agent forward Johnny Newman, who would take the place of free agent Chris Morris. The Jazz also went looking for another big man after learning that Greg Foster fractured an ankle. Utah was believed to have spoken to Chicago about a sign-and-trade deal involving Bill Wennington, although no trade agreement was reached.

The Miami Heat and Golden State Warriors, who couldn’t agree on a Sprewell deal, nonetheless continued to discuss several multi-player deals. Heat coach Pat Riley was thought to have interest in reuniting with Starks, and a deal was being discussed that would sent Brent Barry, Terry Mills and Duane Causwell to the Warriors for Clarence Weatherspoon, Tony Delk and Felton Spencer.

There were reports of a possible Starks-Barry deal, but it would not work salary-cap wise under the league’s complicated trade rules.

Longley worked out on the Suns’ practice court Tuesday.

``I think there’s a good chance I will be here and I’d like to be here,″ he said. ``First of all, it seems like a good town. The franchise always seems to put together a good team and seems serious about winning. If we can agree to terms, this is probably my favorite choice of towns to be in.″

Lawyers for the league and union, meanwhile, continued their nearly round-the-clock talks. After meeting for much of the day Monday, they resumed discussions at 6 a.m. Tuesday, met into the afternoon and planned to resume at 9 p.m. EST.

The main sticking point continued to be whether the new middle-class exception can be used for a three-year contract (the league’s contention) or a six-year contract (the union’s contention).

The outcome could affect the decision of New Jersey free agent guard Sherman Douglas, who may be more inclined to leave the Nets if he can get a six-year exception. He was being courted by the Los Angeles Clippers and the Wizards, who were looking for a fallback in case Strickland leaves.

Others matters of contention include salary cap circumvention rules and the specifics of the anti-drug agreement.

The haggling led the league to sent a memo notifying its 29 teams that training camps will not open until Thursday at the earliest. If there is another delay Wednesday, it is likely that exhibition games scheduled for Saturday night _ including Pippen’s debut with the Rockets in a game against San Antonio _ will be postponed.

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