Biting the bullet, the Orlando Magic announced Grant Hill would undergo a second ankle surgery, ending his season at four games. "We signed Grant under the 95% [chance] that he'd heal," General Manager John Gabriel said. "It's just unfortunate he fell into that 5% that didn't heal. He will still have many great days, years and games here as an Orlando Magic player." Just not soon.
It's the usual turmoil in Washington, where Rod Strickland made his annual "I love New York" announcement, missed a practice--then complained when he didn't start the next game, blaming "management" for it, presumably team President Jordan. Making things worse, Coach Leonard Hamilton, suggested he was siding with Strickland, telling reporters, "Ask management." Strickland then blew off another practice and Jordan suspended him.
Friends say Hamilton, who left Miami University for a five-year, $10-million deal, already regrets it. For his part, Jordan probably wishes he'd never heard of the Wizards, either.
For What It's Worth Dept.: Nugget owner Stan Kronke, who kept silent after his players mutinied, finally said Coach Dan Issel will finish the season-- after the Nuggets went on a 5-1 run. "I didn't feel bad about our team," Kronke said. "I just felt there were times when people weren't communicating. You've got to work at it." In other words, Issel's still in trouble.
Milwaukee's Karl, continuing to bash his stars: "I'm not a good guy to talk personnel with right now. I'm so angry that I don't know if I can see my team fairly. You have to be real conservative with in-season trades. You have anger, you have depression and it clouds your ability to make decisions. There are 100 trades that I walk in on a Monday and say, ' . . . , get that . . . out of here.' I'd trade him for anybody. Then a week later, he's my best player." He's talking about Glenn Robinson, who has played well recently. Of course, Big Dog has a history of tanking after he doesn't make the All-Star game.
Minnesota's mouthy Wally Szczerbiak, who has angered friend and foe alike, almost got into a fight with Charlotte rookie Jamaal Magloire, then went off on Toronto's Vince Carter, noting, "I was surprised at how cool he thinks he is. He's out there styling and kind of profiling and making all these crazy facial expressions like he doesn't really care."
Minnesota Coach Flip Saunders on Szczerbiak: "He's established himself as being a pretty good player and he's going through a time when people test him and Wally doesn't back down to anybody."
Portland Coach Mike Dunleavy, on last week's upset of the Lakers: "As long as we had our Christmas Day ruined [by having to play], we wanted to try to ruin somebody's while we were at it." . . . Portland's 7-foot-3, 290-pound Arvydas Sabonis, who broke in playing against Russia's 7-3, 300-pound Vladimir Tkachenko: "My career began with Tkachenko--I was laying on the floor. I am finishing my career with O'Neal and I am laying on the floor again."