First Alonzo Mourning turned down an offer beyond the $13 million he was seeking. Then, 24 hours later, he stopped a trade, rejecting a deal the Charlotte Hornets had made with the Miami Heat.
Finally, Thursday afternoon, he turned down four of his Hornets teammates when they urged him to change his mind and stay or, at least, allow the proposed trade to go through.
The rejections, detailed by sources familiar with each episode, bring the team to tonight’s opening of the NBA regular season in Chicago against the Bulls with Mourning all but gone.
His most likely destination in a trade appeared to be Miami, especially after the Heat asked the league office for an extension on filing its regular-season roster, though it was unclear how the Heat and Hornets would revamp their agreement in light of Mourning’s stand.
The teams had agreed on a trade, sending Mourning to Miami for multiple, unidentified players, team sources said. Mourning reportedly vetoed the deal because he believed Charlotte would get too much in return, leaving his new team severely weakened. Mourning does not have official veto power over a trade, but in effect can say no by telling another team he would not re-sign when his current contract expires at the end of this season, leaving him an unrestricted free agent.
It was not known which players Miami had offered. Their top player is shooting guard/ small forward Glen Rice. Speculation in Charlotte had Rice, center Matt Geiger and one of two point guards - Bimbo Coles or Khalid Reeves - as the most likely candidates.
After the Hornets worked out at their training facility, Mourning was invited to a closed-door meeting with teammates Muggsy Bogues, Dell Curry, Larry Johnson and Robert Parish and coach Allan Bristow, where details of the proposed trade and Mourning’s rejection were spelled out.
The players urged him to accept owner George Shinn’s latest offer and stay in Charlotte - or at least agree to the Miami trade so the Hornets would not have their own roster stripped, said two Hornets sources familiar with the talks.
Mourning did not accompany the Hornets on their midafternoon flight to Chicago for tonight’s opener (televised nationally on cable network TNT). Attempts to trade Mourning continued into the evening.
Hornets spokesman Keith Kroehler said Mourning asked to take a separate flight, a request the team granted with the understanding Mourning get to Chicago in time for a shoot-around this morning.
Pacers release Bailey
Damon Bailey, Indiana basketball’s favorite son since the eighth grade but buried by an abundance of point guards on the Indiana Pacers, was released by the NBA team.
“In all fairness to him, he needs to play a new position, and that’s something I’m hopeful will happen to him by playing somewhere else,” coach Larry Brown said of the 6-foot-3 Bailey, who became a schoolboy legend in Indiana as a shooter.
“Once he does that, the chances of him playing in our league are going to be enhanced.”
Bailey would not comment on being cut, saying only that he wanted to wait a few days until he decides what he will do. One of the possibilities is playing in the CBA for the Fort Wayne Fury, which signed Bailey to a one-year “multi-purpose” contract over the summer, contingent on whether he remained with the Pacers.
Meanwhile, he is still being paid by the Pacers, who signed him to a two-year, $400,000 package as a second-round pick in 1994.
Already without starting center Luc Longley, who faces a one-game suspension, the Chicago Bulls have several other players hurting as they go into tonight’s season opener.
Scottie Pippen missed some of Thursday’s practice with a mild groin injury, Dennis Rodman was still bothered by a sore toe, and rookie Jason Caffey sprained his right ankle near the end of the workout.
Tarpley under suspension
The Dallas Mavericks suspended Roy Tarpley indefinitely, but owner Donald Carter predicted the forward would be reinstated and back on the payroll within four weeks.
An irritated Tarpley vowed to return by next week.
The length of Tarpley’s suspension hinges on the forward completing a conditioning test, a timed series of 14 sprints. Before Tarpley can take the test, team doctor T.O. Souryal must determine that Tarpley can do so without risk of injury.
But Tarpley, who has been undergoing weeks of medical tests as team doctors try to determine the severity of summerlong pancreas problems, said he and his agent faxed a letter to the Mavericks early this week, volunteering to take the sprints test.
“It’s obvious that management doesn’t want me around,” Tarpley said. “I’m going to do the 14 (sprints) by this weekend, I promise you. The thing that scares me is, ‘What’s next, after I do the 14? What will (management) come up with next?’