NEW YORK — Alonzo Mourning, the newest member of the New Jersey Nets, hopes he will get the opportunity to play defense alongside Dikembe Mutombo this season on a regular basis like they did as collegians at Georgetown, but it isn’t likely to happen.
According to sources, the Nets have revived efforts to sever their brief relationship with the 218-cm Mutombo, whose guaranteed contract has two years (at almost $18 million and $20 million) still remaining.
Earlier in the summer, Mutombo and Kenyon Martin nearly became Trail Blazers in exchange for Rasheed Wallace (the Nets’ reluctance to accept Ruben Patterson instead of the now retired Arvydas Sabonis ultimately killed it), but the two parties recently resurrected somewhat similar conversations. Those close to Wallace say he’s been informed things have heated up again and something may still go down.
Chances are a third team must be incorporated into the trade for it to occur. For example,the Raptors are infatuated with Mutombo. In fact, they’re offering to send Antonio Davis to the Blazers as part compensation.
Wallace would end up in New Jersey and Martin in Portland. Naturally, for cap purposes, other players would have to be included; Dale Davis tells me he’s heard he may be included in that particular three-way swap.
Should the Nets be unable to maneuver Mutombo down their exit ramp via a trade, the next option, I’ve learned, is to negotiate an amiable divorce agreement.
There are signals coming from agent David Falk’s office that his client would be willing to waive roughly $5 million of his annual guarantee in order to get released on his own recognizance.
Once Mutombo cleared waivers, he would be free to sign elsewhere (Raptors, Clippers, Blazers) for the mid-level exception in order to recoup the loss of revenue; probably even tap into some additional funds on the back end.
“I don’t see any problem with me and Dikembe playing on the same team,” the chiseled Mourning declared after notching a robotic 25 points Wednesday at Madison Square Garden in an All-Star game.
“Why not try it first before dismantling it? A lot of people would want the ‘problem’ of having the two of us,” Mourning continued. “Imagine the two of us coming at teams in waves or in unison. For stretches we could shut teams down as a dual force. We would stunt some teams’ growth. I’ll tell you what, until something happens to the contrary, I’m going to figure we’re going to be teammates again. All the other stuff is simply speculation until proven different.”
Nick Van Exel says his controversial days are behind him. Consequently, there is no way he’ll demand a trade or not report to the Warriors’ camp in early October. “Things aren’t that bad,” he underlined.
Still, his trade from Dallas, a legit championship contender, to lottery-lock Golden State, which appears to have regressed during the offseason, doesn’t exactly have him yearning for commencement exercises.
“I’ve gone through too much to be back with a bad team,” he grimaced.
It’s not a situation, he suggests, that will bring out the best in him. Without any prodding on my part or hedging on his, Van Exel says the team he wants to play for is the Knicks, whom, coincidentally, are desperate as usual for just such an amped-up offensive point guard.
“I hear things,” he stated. “I don’t know for a fact the Knicks want me, but I hear my name has come up in some trade talk. Nothing would please me more than being reunited with Antonio (McDyess),” whom he reports is progressing nicely following knee surgery.
“I don’t want to jinx him,” Van Exel cringed, knocking on wood, “but he’s moving well straight up an down in light workouts.”
The Pacers are definitely trying to concoct a trade in order to create cap room for a point guard; Kenny Anderson is the No. 1 option, reveal sources.
Yet the more Rick Carlisle eyeballs the multiplicity and masculinity of Ron Artest and Al Harrington, the safer they seem to become. In other words, that exposes Jonathan Bender and Austin Croshere as trade bait.
“They want Kenny and he wants them,” alerts a hall monitor. “Look for a decision next week. If the Pacers can’t free up the money and years Kenny wants, he’ll either settle for the veteran minimum or sign with the Hawks where he lives.”
Indiana’s Plan B is Mark Jackson; Omar Cook is being brought into camp minus any guarantees.
Contrary to reports, Jackson is not considering signing with the Blazers and never was. Should the Pacers decide against bringing him back for a third hitch, the Spurs and Heat (Rafer Alston is Miami’s only legit playmaker) are distinct possibilities.
Damon Jones, one of the Bucks many new additions, went for an uncontested 39 points at the Garden (closest his defender got was when someone came off the bench and fouled him from behind in the act of chucking), including seven straight trifectas.
After draining the first four he sashayed over to honorary coach Dick Barnett and crowed, “If I ever miss one you can take me out.”
Look for Jimmy Jackson to join the Timberwolves on a one-year deal as Latrell Sprewell’s reinforcement. If there was any doubt in your mind about who will prevail at the point — Sam Cassell or Troy Hudson — erase it.
“You don’t think they brought me to Minnesota as a back up, do you?” Cassell wailed incredulously. “Troy will be tough to handle coming off the bench now that he’s got his confidence going, but I’ll be starting — bet on that.”
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