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CLIPPER REPORT : Swingman Piatkowski Signs Five-Year Contract

October 15, 1994|CHRIS BAKER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

One down, one to go.

Nebraska swingman Eric Piatkowski, the 15th player selected in the NBA draft, ended a weeklong holdout Friday, signing a five-year contract with the Clippers.

Although terms weren't disclosed, the Clippers had offered him a multiyear deal worth $650,000 in the first season. Piatkowski was seeking a multiyear deal worth $1.1 million the first season.

Now the Clippers can concentrate on signing Cal forward Lamond Murray, their No. 1 pick. Murray, the seventh player selected, is seeking a multiyear contract worth $2.4 million in the first season. However, the Clippers have offered him a multiyear deal worth $1.1 million in the first season. The Clippers are continuing to negotiate with Fred Slaughter, Murray's agent.

Piatkowski said he didn't get anxious as negotiations dragged on.

"I think it was a lot tougher on some of my friends and my parents than it was on me," Piatkowski said. "I've really been enjoying being here. I worked out two times a day and other than that I'd go out to the beach and see lots of new stuff out here in California. Sooner or later I knew it was going to come along."

Piatkowski, a 6-foot-7, 215-pounder, can play either small forward or shooting guard and probably will compete with Terry Dehere to replace guard Ron Harper, who signed with the Chicago Bulls last month.

Although Piatkowski missed the first week of camp, he doesn't expect any trouble catching up. He'll join the team Sunday.

"I don't think I'm in great basketball shape right now, but by the time the season starts I can guarantee that I'll be in great basketball shape," Piatkowski said. "That's one of the things that has always been easy for me, so I'm going to work very hard and I know that Coach (Bill) Fitch is going to work me hard."

Piatkowski has firsthand knowledge since his father, Walt, played for Fitch at Bowling Green.

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The Clippers open the season in Yokohama, Japan, against the Portland Trail Blazers on Nov. 4 and also have two exhibition games in Mexico City later this month.

"They better play well while they're over there because we've been known to leave people on the road," Fitch joked. "You tell a guy (if he commits) three or four turnovers (that) you can't find (his) passport."

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The Clippers opened the exhibition season in Orlando with a 105-82 loss to the Magic on Friday night. Harold Ellis scored 18 points for the Clippers, who shot 15% from the field in the first quarter while missing 17 of 20 shots. The Clippers play the Atlanta Hawks at the Omni tonight before returning home to face the Lakers at The Pond Tuesday night at 7:30. A few remaining Clipper-Laker tickets, priced at $14 and $18, go on sale at 10 a.m. today at The Pond box office and all Ticketmaster outlets.

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