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Pacers’ Owner Denies Thomas Rumor

July 15, 2000

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ Pacers president Donnie Walsh denied coaching candidate Isiah Thomas is using money from a contract with the Pacers to pay off a $750,000 debt to former owners of the Continental Basketball Association.

``There is no contract,″ Walsh said Friday. ``Nothing is signed and sealed yet. He’s not using any money that we have given him. In other words, we have not given him any money.″

Thomas, a Hall of Fame member, is one of two acknowledged candidates to replace Larry Bird as Pacers coach, along with Pacers assistant Rick Carlisle.

But Thomas, who purchased the CBA in October for $10 million, must sell it before taking an NBA job. Thomas has signed a letter of agreement with the NBA players’ union to explore the sale of the league to the group.

Jay Frye, former managing partner of the CBA’s Fort Wayne Fury, said that certified checks to former CBA owners were supposed to be in the mail Friday.

``Isiah’s people have told us on a couple of occasions that his deal with the Pacers is done and signed and they’re going to use it to pay us off and sell the league to the players’ association,″ said Frye, the former chairman of the CBA executive committee. ``I hope he gets a job so he can pay his bills.″

Repeated calls to Thomas’ office by The Indianapolis Star on Friday were not returned, the newspaper reported. A CBA spokesman did not confirm that the checks were in the mail.

``I have no knowledge about that subject,″ said Matt Fendon of the league.

Frye said if he’s not paid soon, he’ll file a lawsuit against Thomas.

``I have no tolerance for him passing deadlines anymore,″ Frye said.

Walsh said he plans to ask the NBA to waive Thomas’ ownership in the CBA.

``We have to know that before we get to anything else,″ Walsh said.

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