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Kings Get Bigger, Deeper by Adding Clark

NBA NOTES

August 15, 2002|From Associated Press

The Sacramento Kings signed free-agent forward Keon Clark on Wednesday, adding another big man to square off against the Lakers' Shaquille O'Neal.

The 6-foot-11 Clark played the last 1 1/2 seasons with Toronto, averaging 11.3 points, 7.4 rebounds and a team-leading 1.5 blocked shots in 2001-02. He played his first 2 1/2 seasons with Denver, after Orlando drafted him with the 13th overall pick in 1998 and traded him to the Nuggets.

"You'll see that his game and the type of game we play are made for each other," said Geoff Petrie, the Kings' president of basketball operations.

An athletic forward with impressive jumping abilities and a solid inside game, Clark was one of the more attractive forwards on the market this summer.

But the impending luxury tax, and Clark's citation on a marijuana possession charge last month, might have scared off many suitors.

"His skill level and overall game should fit perfectly with our team-oriented style of play," Petrie said. "Keon will further strengthen the size and versatility of our team, and our frontcourt in particular."

Sacramento will work the 221-pound Clark into its frontcourt rotation with Chris Webber, Vlade Divac and Scot Pollard.

Clark's shot-blocking and rebounding abilities should shore up two of the Kings' biggest deficiencies last season, when they finished with the NBA's best regular-season record.

Clark became an unrestricted free agent when Toronto rescinded its $3-million qualifying offer, citing the impending luxury tax. Clark's agent, however, told the Raptors that Clark wouldn't play for the qualifying offer.

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Free-agent forward Rodney Rogers signed a three-year, $9-million contract with the New Jersey Nets in a move that will reunite him with former teammates Jason Kidd and Dikembe Mutombo.

Rogers, 31, can opt out of his contract after the first two years.

"He will fit perfectly," General Manager Rod Thorn said. "This gives us the outside threat we lost when we traded [Keith] Van Horn. It gives us the toughness he has always shown on the court throughout his career."

Rogers averaged 11.9 points, 4.5 rebounds and shot 37% from three-point range last season with the Phoenix Suns and Boston Celtics.

Rogers played with Kidd in Phoenix and with Mutombo in Denver.

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After a prolonged search delayed by the withdrawal of four candidates, the Denver Nuggets will name assistant Jeff Bzdelik as their new coach next week, according to a team source.

The hiring was first reported by the Denver Post on Wednesday.

Considered one of the league's top defensive minds, Bzdelik, 49, was an assistant for six years under Miami Heat Coach Pat Riley. He joined the Nuggets as a scout last season after leaving the Heat.

Bzdelik became a front-runner for the Denver job after assistant coaches Donn Nelson of Dallas, Eddie Jordan of New Jersey, Phil Johnson of Utah and Del Harris of Dallas all withdrew their names from consideration during a six-week period.

The Nuggets have been seeking a permanent head coach since Dan Issel was forced out in December after uttering a racially insensitive remark following a loss. Mike Evans finished the season as interim coach.

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Free-agent guard A.J. Guyton signed a contract with the Lakers. Guyton, a 6-1 two-year veteran from Indiana, was a second-round pick of the Chicago Bulls. He has averaged 5.7 points in the NBA.

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