Shawn Kemp is ready to talk with the Seattle Sonics. But the unhappy All-Star forward will deal with only one person.
Kemp wants to speak with Sonics owner Barry Ackerley about his trade demand.
“We’ve tried to set up a meeting with Mr. Ackerley and he hasn’t returned our calls,” said Tony Dutt, Kemp’s Houston-based agent. “We’re going to continue to try and have a meeting with Mr. Ackerley, because to sit and wait until October doesn’t make sense for either side.
“Shawn has asked for a trade and that’s the only productive outcome of this situation.”
Ackerley could not be reached for comment Monday.
Dutt said he has left voice messages and faxed a written request with Kemp’s signature for Ackerley to respond. Sonics president Wally Walker has insisted all along he would like to meet with Kemp, instead.
Kemp, though, still has no desire to discuss the matter with Walker, Sonics coach George Karl or teammates. All parties are expected to convene at Gary Payton’s July 26 wedding, although both sides have said the event would not be the time or place for business.
Kemp wants Ackerley to step in now, rather than later.
“Ackerley knows the whole situation,” Dutt said. “I’m not going to diminish Wally’s role. We have a good relationship with Wally. But nothing gets done until Mr. Ackerley says so. Why wouldn’t (Ackerley) want to talk to Shawn?”
It is widely believed that Ackerley quashed the Kemp-for-Scottie Pippen trade on draft day of 1994 as a result of public outcry in Seattle.
It was Ackerley who went to Kemp’s hometown of Elkhart, Ind., last October and ended a three-week holdout by the star forward. What was said between the two is still a mystery.
A source close to the situation confirmed there have been assurances made to Kemp during his eight-year Sonics career, but didn’t specify their nature.
“If you look at the whole picture, you can figure it out,” the source said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “You can see why Shawn wants to deal with (Ackerley). A lot of superstar players deal directly with their owner. … This situation probably won’t pass without Ackerley’s input.”
Walker insists he is not familiar with the details of the conversation last fall between Ackerley and Kemp.
Asked whether Kemp ever received some sort of guarantee - financial or otherwise - Dutt said he knew of none because he wasn’t at last fall’s meeting.
That widely publicized visit by Ackerley got Kemp back into training camp and into a Sonics uniform. Kemp played through turmoil last season before advising his representatives to request a trade days after the Sonics’ playoff run ended.
Kemp then told ESPN last month that he would “never, ever, ever wear that uniform again.”
Kemp has six years remaining on his contract with the Sonics. The deal is to pay him $3.5 million next season, less than market value for a player of his caliber. Kemp told ESPN money is just part of his discontent with the Sonics. He said playing in Seattle isn’t fun any more and described being here as “negative.”
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