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Grieving Malone Leaves U.S. Team

AROUND THE NBA

August 20, 2003|From Staff and Wire Reports

Karl Malone will not rejoin the U.S. Olympic qualifying team because of the death of his mother. Kenyon Martin of the New Jersey Nets was chosen Tuesday as his replacement.

Malone, a forward, will retain his spot on the 2004 Olympic team if the U.S. earns one of three berths to the Games at a qualifying tournament that begins today in Puerto Rico with the team playing Brazil.

"It was more important for him to be with his family and we all understand that," U.S. Coach Larry Brown said. "Hopefully he'll be part of our team in 2004 if we're lucky enough to qualify."

Malone, a 40-year-old two-time Olympian, left the team's training camp in New York last Wednesday to return to Arkansas after his mother, Shirley Jackson Malone, died.

Martin was expected to join the team at its afternoon practice Tuesday in San Juan.

Martin, who got married Saturday in Las Vegas, is not guaranteed a spot on the 2004 team, USA Basketball spokesman Craig Miller said.

He becomes the third member of the New Jersey Nets on the roster, joining Jason Kidd and Richard Jefferson.

"This is somewhat unexpected, but it is a great opportunity for Kenyon. He's certainly deserving of this kind of honor and we're looking forward to having him join the team," Brown said.

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Sen. Jon Corzine (D-N.J.) and real estate developer Charles Kushner are involved in discussions to buy the New Jersey Nets in an effort to prevent the team from moving to New York, according to reports.

Corzine and Kushner have been talking to Net owners and reviewing the team's financial records, and could present a bid as early as next week, sources in New York and New Jersey involved with the negotiations told the New York Times.

Corzine and Kushner, a Democratic political contributor, are the leaders in a potential partnership forged by former Sen. Robert Torricelli, the Star-Ledger of Newark and the Record of Bergen County reported Tuesday. Torricelli has been seeking investors to keep the team from leaving New Jersey, sources, including a board member of the YankeeNets holding company, told the newspaper.

The New York Yankees and the Nets are two major assets of YankeeNets, which could fold if the Nets are sold. YankeeNets also owns the NHL's New Jersey Devils.

It is unclear whether Corzine and Kushner would push to keep the Nets and the Devils at Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, where they now play, or try to revive a stalled plan for a new arena in Newark.

Others who have expressed interest in buying the Nets include New York developer Bruce Ratner, who would move the team to a new arena in Brooklyn, and New York Islander owner Charles Wang, who has intensified negotiations with Nassau County, N.Y., for a new arena.

Meanwhile, the Nets re-signed backup guard Lucious Harris to a reported two-year, $5-million contract.

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The Clippers named Jim Eyen, Kim Hughes, Rory White and Neal Meyer as assistant coaches under new Coach Mike Dunleavy.

Eyen, a scout for the New York Knicks last season, assisted Dunleavy with the Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks and Portland Trail Blazers. Hughes was a Nugget assistant last season.

White, a Clipper in the mid-1980s, has been a Continental Basketball Assn. coach and Meyer was a Trail Blazer assistant.

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The Indiana Pacers say they are nearing a deal to re-sign free agent guard Reggie Miller, 37, keeping him with the team where he has played his entire 16-year NBA career.

"We're close," Pacer President Larry Bird said. "Reggie wants to come back. We want him here. He's not like he was 10 years ago, but he still has a lot left."

Miller, who earned $12 million last year, is the Pacers' career scoring leader but is coming off an injury-plagued season that limited his productivity.

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Guard Dwyane Wade, the No. 5 overall pick in the NBA draft out of Marquette, signed with the Miami Heat. Terms were not disclosed.... Denver signed free-agent guard Earl Boykins to a five-year, $13.7-million contract. Boykins, at 5 feet 5, played for Golden State last season.... Golden State hired Keith Smart as an assistant coach. Smart was interim coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers for much of last season.

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Times staff writer Larry Stewart contributed to this report.

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