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Kings Anticipate Richmond Deal

Sun., Nov. 2, 1997

Expect Sacramento Kings star Mitch Richmond to be playing for someone else before too long.

Still angry about his contract, worth about $3 million a season, Richmond is said to be so distracted by it and by the Kings’ constant losing that the team is concerned his value will diminish as the season progresses.

The Lakers talked to the Kings about a deal for Eddie Jones, and the Heat has been pursuing Richmond madly. But Sacramento isn’t interested in Pat Riley’s heap of Voshon Lenard, Jamal Mashburn, P.J. Brown, Todd Day, Dan Majerle, Isaac Austin and Terry Mills.

“We’ve had discussions with them, but everybody’s had discussions with them,” Riley said of the Kings. “(Richmond) is a great, great superstar. It looks as though it has come to the time they are really entertaining discussions.

There must be 15 teams involved.”

The deal everyone was talking about last week - and one that would work under salary-cap constraints - would send Richmond, Corliss Williamson, Bobby Hurley and Billy Owens to New York for Allan Houston, Chris Mills and Chris Childs.

Mills happy with Knicks

Chris Mills logged 3,167 minutes of playing time with the Cleveland Cavaliers last season before signing a seven-year deal worth $33.6 million with the Boston Celtics.

But when Boston coach Rick Pitino gave Mills the choice to accept or reject a trade to New York, where his playing time would be cut in half and he would be the seventh, eighth or even ninth guy in the rotation, Mills said, “I thought about it for 30 seconds. I’m thinking, ‘I would love to be with the Knicks.”’

Van Exel history?

Los Angeles Lakers general manager Jerry West angrily blew away speculation he is willing to swap Nick Van Exel for Chris Childs of the Knicks. But the rapid development of 6-6 prodigy Kobe Bryant soon may make Van Exel expendable.

However, anyone considering trading for Van Exel must consider his degenerative knee condition.

Lakers coach Del Harris has vowed to limit Van Exel’s playing time, saying, “We realize that Nick needs rest with his knee, and we’re going to make sure he doesn’t tire out.”

Van Exel, who has said he might retire by 1999, told reporters to just call him “Nick” instead of “Nick the Quick.”

Hill speaks out

Detroit’s Grant Hill has broken with the players’ union on the issue of marijuana testing. Hill wants it.

“If they are going to test for drugs, they need to test for all substances: cocaine, heroin, steroids, marijuana, everything,” he said. “If something’s illegal on the streets but legal in the NBA, that’s sending the wrong message. I know this gets into human- and civil-rights issues, but I agree with what Karl Malone said: If you aren’t smoking it, then you shouldn’t have any problem getting tested.”

Illegal Chuck, uh, check

Maybe Charles Barkley can play hockey.

Barkley said: “Hockey is a great sport. Any sport where you can beat the hell out of somebody and only get 2 minutes in the penalty box, I like it.”

Who will replace Albert?

It won’t become evident until Christmas, but one of the NBA’s biggest roster changes this season will be off the court.

NBC will replace Marv Albert when its NBA telecasts begin Dec. 25, when the defending champion Bulls meet the Miami Heat.

The network fired Albert, a 20-year veteran, last month after he pleaded guilty to sexual assault and battery charges.

Heading the list of candidates is Greg Gumbel, who worked the Western Conference semifinal series, the last showcase NBA assignment handled by someone other than Albert.

NBC announcers Tom Hammond, Dick Enberg and Bob Costas are being considered for NBA play-by-play, as is Mike Breen, an NBC pro football announcer who followed Albert as radio voice of the Knicks on WFAN radio.

Around the league

Larry Bird earned his first victory as an NBA coach Saturday night as Reggie Miller scored 33 points and the Indiana Pacers beat the Golden State Warriors 96-83 at Indianapolis.

At Minneapolis, Stephon Marbury had 23 points and 13 assists and Kevin Garnett keyed a decisive third-quarter rally that lifted the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 106-90 victory over the Charlotte Hornets.

At Chicago, the Bulls recovered from a seasonopening loss and celebrated the unveiling of their fifth championship banner by defeating the Philadelphia 76ers 94-74.

Ron Harper had 17 points and eight assists and Michael Jordan scored 16 points in 24 minutes for the two-time defending NBA champions.

At Landover, Md., Tim Hardaway drove the length of the court and hit a running 12-foot jumper at the buzzer as the Miami Heat, after blowing an 18-point lead, beat the Washington Wizards.

At Salt Lake City, Karl Malone scored 24 points and passed ex-Nugget Alex English on the NBA career scoring list with his 25,613th point as the Utah Jazz came back from a season-opening loss and defeated the Denver Nuggets 102-84.

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