Pitino Almost Dealt Pierce for Mashburn

January 25, 1999

Close call

Pitino went on the radio Friday and said emphatically that he would not trade Pierce. (Hope Pierce's landlord wasn't listening.) That was after he had seen him in a couple practices. Pierce was discussed in a four-way deal that would have had him going to Cleveland. The Celtics would have ended up with Mashburn and Vitaly Potapenko, a pretty good match, given Boston's trouble in the middle. Mash is a proven scorer and Potapenko is the full slab.

Speaking of slabs, Stanley Roberts showed up in Greece two weeks ago expecting to sign a contract. Instead, his weight, conservatively listed at 330, was too much and he was sent back home, reportedly with sciatica. Dicky Simpkins, of the team formerly known as the Chicago Bulls (they became Vancouver East in a hurry, didn't they), also is exploring Greece . . . The Bulls' official network the last eight years, NBC, dropped them like a radioactive dish. Chicago will make no appearances on NBC this season, just another reminder that while the league may be interested in rebuilding the "team" concept, television wants entertainers and personalities. Now, if Dennis Rodman ends up back there . . . Nah, just kidding.

Latrell Sprewell is now with the Knicks, but the team he almost ended up with was . . . the Warriors. When Golden State general manager Garry St. Jean asked for final offers for Mr. Warmth, he was astounded at how bad they were. Miami wouldn't part with P.J. Brown and even took Jamal Mashburn off the table, tossing out Dan Majerle, Terry Mills, and Brent Barry. Once Indiana realized Brown wasn't in the mix, it lost interest. St. Jean, to his credit, extracted John Starks instead of Chris Childs to go along with Chris Mills and Terry Cummings. But it was strictly a salvage operation at that point. All summer St. Jean had been fielding inquiries, but when it came time to make a deal, he had only one legit offer: the one he took from the Knicks. It would not be inaccurate to state that the thought of Sprewell's return caused some trepidation and even panic at Golden State. The bottom line is that there was, as usual, more talk than action and when it came time for sealed bids, there was, as Gertrude Stein might say, not a lot of there there . . . Speaking of Spree, the Knicks in general and Madison Square Garden honcho Dave Checketts in particular are taking some heat for the trade. Checketts was reminded of a statement he made a few years back when he said he'd seek only solid citizens for the Knicks (Larry Johnson must have slipped through the cracks). Checketts told reporters in a conference call that his prior remarks were "pretty judgmental and almost self-righteous. I regret having said those things. It's not fair for me to judge what people have gone through. A lot has happened to my thinking in the last 48 hours or so." . . .

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