Penny Hardaway and Damon Stoudamire were the centerpieces of a blockbuster three- or four-team trade being discussed Wednesday.
The principal teams in the talks are the New Jersey Nets, who would receive Hardaway; the Orlando Magic, who would get Stoudamire, Walt Williams and others, and the Toronto Raptors, who would receive Sam Cassell and another player from the Nets.
The Clippers, at least at one point, were also being mentioned. The Clippers would send guard Darrick Martin, rookie forward Maurice Taylor and forward Lamond Murray to the Raptors, who in turn would send Stoudamire and Williams to the Portland Trail Blazers and the Clippers would get guard Kenny Anderson and forward Gary Trent.
Clipper Coach Bill Fitch, dismissing such talk, said, "If you look at the last four or five years, there have been rumors, rumors, rumors and probably one trade made."
The biggest holdup of some kind of trade was Orlando's decision on whether to keep Stoudamire or immediately trade him.
Orlando was discussing sending Stoudamire and others to the Trail Blazers for several players, according to several NBA sources who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The inclusion of Hardaway was a stunning development, although his name surfaced in the league rumor mill in early December. Hardaway, who was to sit out Wednesday night's game in Minnesota because of a strained calf, said before the game he expected to end up with another team by today.
Hardaway has a clause in his contract allowing him to become a free agent after the 1998-99 season, and Orlando's management may have become convinced that he would be looking to leave at that time. However, Hardaway insisted Wednesday he wants to play his entire career in Orlando.
"The Magic [was] looking for me to give them a commitment that I wanted to be in Orlando for the rest of my career," Hardaway said. "I gave them that . . . and all of a sudden it seems like my word isn't good enough to stay with the Magic. So it seems like the trade rumors have started even more."
New Jersey and Toronto were close Tuesday to doing a straight-up trade of Stoudamire and Williams for Kendall Gill and Cassell, but Stoudamire expressed reservations about playing for Nets' Coach John Calipari, a source said.
Isaiah Rider, the troubled Portland guard, was suspended by the Trail Blazers for one game after he walked out of the Rose Garden before the end of Tuesday night's 117-105 victory over the Lakers.
Rider will miss Portland's game tonight in Phoenix, costing him a one-game share of his $4.21-million salary.
"Right now I'm a little sensitive to a lot of things," Rider said Wednesday after showing up late for practice and then leaving early. "I never let it affect me, but honestly this is one time I can't lie."
Rider said he was upset that fans could cheer him after making a shot, then turn on him when he misses a few shots.
While he declined to give specifics, Rider said he was fed up with both the criticism and with what he perceives as inherent racism in the Portland area.
"Forty miles from here, they're probably still out hanging people from trees," Rider said without elaborating.
Rider walked out after Coach Mike Dunleavy pulled him for taking what Dunleavy considered a bad shot. Dunleavy had benched Rider the entire first quarter for missing a pregame meeting, and the two exchanged words after Rider was pulled with 7:17 to play.