Center Marcus Camby of the New York Knicks was suspended for five games and will lose about $345,000 for throwing a wild sucker punch at Danny Ferry of the San Antonio Spurs.
The punishment angered the Knicks, especially Coach Jeff Van Gundy, whose head collided with Camby's while he stepped between the players. Van Gundy needed more than a dozen stitches to close the cut over his left eye.
"I'm not here to try to defend Marcus, what he did was wrong and he admitted that, but clearly the punishment doesn't fit his actions. It hurts us, and it hurts our chances of winning," Van Gundy said.
Camby will sit out games against the Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks, Charlotte Hornets and the Lakers. Kurt Thomas will start in his place, and Luc Longley and Travis Knight will back up Thomas.
Camby, also fined $25,000, will be eligible to return Feb. 1 against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Ferry drew a one-game suspension and $7,500 fine for his actions leading up to the altercation.
Van Gundy's eye remained black and blue Wednesday, 48 hours after he had had to be helped off the court with blood dripping down his face.
"When I saw the picture on page one of The New York Times, above the fold, I thought it might be more than one game, but I'm surprised it's five," Knick General Manager Scott Layden said. "But we have to abide by these decisions, and good teams find a way to play through these things."
The Houston Rockets expect Hakeem Olajuwon to complete his career with the team.
"I don't like the idea of trading him," General Manager Carroll Dawson told The Associated Press. "We have talked about it a couple of times over the last month."
The Houston Chronicle reported that Olajuwon would welcome a chance to move on.
"I think he understands with the salary cap that a trade like that would be very difficult," Dawson said. "For me personally, I'm against it."