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Dudley Contract Upheld by Arbitrator

September 03, 1993|From Staff and Wire Report

The contract free-agent center Chris Dudley signed with the Portland Trail Blazers has been upheld by the NBA's special master.

The NBA and the Trail Blazers said Thursday they had been informed by Merrell Clark, who arbitrated the case, that he will rule in favor of the team.

The league said it would challenge the decision in federal court.

NBA Commissioner David Stern voided the seven-year contract a month ago, contending its one-year escape clause was "a blatant and transparent attempt to circumvent the fundamental principles" of the league's salary cap.

Stern had threatened to fine the Trail Blazers up to $1 million and force the franchise to forfeit draft picks if the action was upheld.

Clark's decision also apparently validates contracts with one-year escape clauses signed by Toni Kukoc with Chicago and Craig Ehlo with Atlanta.

Dudley signed an $11-million contract that pays him $800,000 for the first season. He turned down a seven-year, $21 million deal with his old team, the New Jersey Nets.

But the Portland contract allows Dudley to become a free agent again after next season. At that time, the Trail Blazers could offer him an unlimited amount of money because a team can exceed the salary cap to retain a free agent.

NBA officials said the large difference between the New Jersey offer and the deal Dudley signed with Portland made it obvious there was an understanding that he would be given a much larger contract after next season.

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Jurisprudence

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Golf

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