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Magic might take chance on Kemp

Jerry Brewer of the Orlando Sentinel reports: The Orlando Magic are prepared to look behind dark corners and in cracks and crevices to find answers to their front-court problems.

And, yes, that means exploring whether Shawn Kemp deserves another chance.

The Magic are interested in speaking with him and seeing him work out, according to a source. A meeting is expected within the next two weeks.

Magic General Manager John Gabriel has been quiet when asked specific questions about Kemp, but he does not hide the fact that his team must be creative in solving its front-court quandary.

"We haven't ruled out anybody," Gabriel said. "We want to win. In order to win, we will explore all possibilities."

The problem is, there are few possibilities out there. The Magic wanted free-agent forward Brian Skinner, but he signed with the Philadelphia 76ers last week. The Magic missed out on Skinner a day after learning that forward/center Steven Hunter will miss at least half of the season because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.

Right now, the Magic are left with three true post players on their roster: 37-year-old Horace Grant, unproven 21-year-old Olumide Oyedeji and 29-year-old journeyman Andrew DeClercq. Other than that, they have two undersized players who can play some time at power forward in Pat Garrity and rookie Ryan Humphrey. If the season started today, the Magic would only be able to dress 11 players.

"Right now, we have a need to fill out the 12-man roster," Gabriel said.

Because of luxury-tax concerns, the Magic negotiated buyouts with Patrick Ewing and Jud Buechler. They also traded Don Reid and a future first-round pick to Denver for a 2004 second-round pick. At the time, Hunter was healthy and hungry to contribute.

Gabriel said acquiring a big man through trade is "unlikely, but we'll still explore those options." The problem with a trade is that most teams won't trade a big guy for smaller players.

Gabriel also said it is unlikely that the Magic could offer a free agent more than a minimum contract (RealGM note: They only have about a 900,000 gap between their payroll and the $50 million target that they don't want to exceed). Kemp has not said how much money he will seek. He is likely to get several minimum offers.

Beyond Kemp, the Magic would have some interest in San Antonio forward/center Cherokee Parks and Dallas center Wang Zhizhi, who is unlikely because he is more likely to be signed and traded by the mavericks elsewhere. Washington forward Popeye Jones remains unsigned, but he would only consider a minimum offer if other options -- including Seattle and Dallas -- fall through but that is highly unlikely and their is still a good chance that he will go back to Washington.

Gary Trent and Charles Oakley are also available but Orlando will likely pass on Trent because of his injuries and it seems like they don't want anything to do with Oakley.

Via Orlando Sentinel

Shaq to have toe surgery

Tim Brown of the Los Angeles Times reports: After more than two months of angst and analysis, Laker center Shaquille O'Neal has scheduled the surgery doctors believe will ease the pain in his arthritic toe for Sept. 11.

As expected, Dr. Robert Mohr will perform the surgery, called a cheilectomy, at UCLA Medical Center.

The recovery is expected to take about eight weeks, and O'Neal, the most valuable player of the last three NBA Finals, could miss most or all of training camp and some of the regular season.

The Lakers open their bid for a fourth consecutive championship Oct. 29 against San Antonio. If O'Neal's rehabilitation follows its projected schedule--it varies from patient to patient and could take as much as a month longer--O'Neal would return within about a week of the opener.

A virus that gripped O'Neal in recent weeks looms as a potential complication. If he continues to show symptoms of the virus that forced him to be hospitalized because his body temperature spiked and liver swelled, the surgery would be delayed again. Perry Rogers, O'Neal's agent, said Friday that the date was set assuming the virus would be diminished enough or eradicated in time for the surgery.

"Shaquille wants to get on with this," Rogers said. "We can't wait anymore."

Via Los Angeles Times

Point-guard search turns to El-Amin

Harvey Fialkov of the Sun-Sentinel reports that the Heat are sill looking for a point guard. While incumbent starting point guard Rod Strickland remains unsigned, the Heat has brought in former University of Connecticut guard Khalid El-Amin for an extended tryout.

Under the coach staff's supervision, El-Amin, 23, has been working out with Heat point guards Anthony Carter and Mike James. If Strickland and the Heat can't come to an agreement, it's quite possible that coach Pat Riley will throw open the competition for the starting spot and allow the trio to fight it out in training camp

"Hopefully, I can be their man," El-Amin said. "I just want to be consistent every night and stay on that level. I learned about hard work from Elton Brand [in Chicago] and Tim Hardaway and Steve Nash in Dallas," he said. "I know I have to put the time and effort in. It takes hard work to survive in this league."

Strickland's agent, Rock Newman, refused to comment on the 36-year-old's free-agent negotiations. "Under the conditions and circumstances I am not discussing it at all," Newman said Friday.

Crazy day at the Worlds

Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicls writes that Vlade Divac may have been confident in his team?s chances against Team USA, but he never said they would beat Spain.

A crazy day at the Basketball World Championships saw two incredible upsets. The Grizzlies? Paul Gasol and his Spanish team beat Divac?s Yugoslavian club and the team from Brazil defeated Turkey in spectacular fashion.

Yugoslavia fell behind by 19 points in the first half against Spain. They mounted their comeback in the second half, finally taking a lead with 7:44 remaining in the fourth quarter. Spain recovered as Divac fouled out.

A pair of 3 pointers gave Spain the lead with 45 seconds remaining. Paul Gasol was fouled with 27 seconds left giving him a chance to extent Spain?s lead to 4 points. After scoring 25 points in the game, Gasol missed both free throws. Yugoslavia?s last second attempt rattled out and Spain had a 71-69 victory.

In the other game, the favored team from Turkey built a 16-point lead against Brazil but the Brazilian team fought back. After 2 missed free throws by the Truks, Brazil had a chance to win with 15.6 seconds left.

Brazil isolated Marcelo Machado on ex-NBA player Mirsad Turkcan. Machado ran the clock down to his last possible chance before launching his shot just before the buzzer and just beyond Turkcan's reach 22-feet from the basket. It swished, giving Machado a 30-point afternoon and Brazil the 88-86 win.

Nowitzki, Germans Give U.S. a Game

Steve Wyche of the Washington Post reports that not only is Germany?s Dirk Nowitzki the best player at the World Championships, he was almost good enough to beat Team USA all by himself.

The Dallas Maverick forward scored 34 points and actually had his German team in the lead in the third quarter against the Americans. Team USA's Paul Pierce rose up when Nowitzki wore down and the U.S. squad emerged from a prolonged scare to defeat Germany, 104-87.

Pierce finished with 26 points, scoring 15 of those during the third quarter when Team USA went from a 67-65 deficit to a 77-67 lead entering the fourth quarter. "In the first half I was frustrated with the way I was playing," said Pierce. "The first half I settled for the three-pointer instead of driving to the basket. I'm able to adjust in the middle of the game and I was able to get going, give my team some confidence, give them some momentum."

In the fourth quarter, the Americans pulled away racing to a 22 point lead as Nowitzki ran out of gas. After three quarters of carrying the German team, he could only muster four points on free throws in the fourth. "Dirk's the one, two and three option on that team," said U.S. forward Michael Finley, who had 21 points. "We just wanted to eliminate his touches [in the second half]. We knew when he got the ball good things were happening for him so we tried to deny him the ball and when he got it, contest it."

The United States (2-0) will play its first-round finale Saturday against China, which defeated Algeria 96-82 tonight behind 38 points, 13 rebounds and 8 blocked shots by 7-foot-5 center Yao Ming. Though China isn't expected to test the United States like Germany did, U.S. Coach George Karl said, "I think we're going to be in two, three, four more games like this."

Marbury to serve jail time, miss season opener

The Associated Press reports: Phoenix Suns guard Stephon Marbury will serve 10 days in jail after pleading no contest Friday to drunken driving.

Marbury, acquired a year ago by the Suns in the trade that sent Jason Kidd to New Jersey, was stopped Feb. 8 while driving his Bentley convertible 25 miles above the speed limit on a busy street.


He registered a 0.18 blood alcohol level, more than twice Arizona's legal limit. A level about 0.15 is considered extreme driving under the influence.


Marbury, who entered the plea in Scottsdale Municipal Court, also agreed to pay a $1,000 fine and attend alcohol education classes. He was scheduled to start serving the sentence Saturday, according to court records.


''Rather than extend this process and try to avoid my obligations, I fully intend to serve the required penalty levied by the court,'' Marbury said in a statement.


The NBA suspended Marbury on Friday for one game as a result of the plea. He will sit out Phoenix's season opener at Seattle on Oct. 30.


Marbury also will match the fine his suspension carries with a contribution to alcohol abuse and awareness programs, the Suns said.


''Most important to me, however, is that the message be heard loud and clear that I was wrong to do what I did,'' Marbury's statement read. ''I am fortunate no one was hurt by my actions. I pledge I will do what I can through personal and financial outreach to heighten the awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving.''


Suns president Bryan Colangelo said that while he was disappointed in Marbury's actions, ''I do believe he has learned a great deal from this experience and that he is regretful for his actions.''

Via ESPN

First impression is Musselman's a winner

O'Neal OK in Indy

Jerry Brewer of the Orlando Sentinel reports that Jermaine O?Neal may be unattainable during next season?s free agent frenzy. Not because of the salary cap or the luxury tax, but because he doesn?t want to leave Indiana.

"Unless the whole floor falls out as far as management and the year we have, Indiana has to be No. 1," the Pacers forward said. "I'm very loyal. The Pacers went out and traded Dale Davis, an All-Star, for me, a player not known by many people. They believed that much in me."

While he could play the free agent game and pit teams against one another to get the big payoff, O?Neal doesn't need the attention. He'd prefer to keep growing in the place where his stardom hatched. In three short years with the Pacers, he has blossomed from a lost ?preps-to-pros? phenom, to one of the premier big men in the game. And he loves the Pacers for giving him that chance.

"(Team president) Donnie Walsh, he's one of the last Mohicans," O'Neal said. "You can believe everything he says. I'm a huge fan of Donnie Walsh and (coach) Isiah Thomas. I don't want to make it an issue this year," O'Neal said of being a free agent. "I have a year left on the deal I have. I don't want to talk much about it at all."

So for the Pacers, keeping O'Neal is simple. Watch him play well. Ensure that the team improves. Offer O'Neal maximum money. Shake O'Neal's hand after he accepts it. The rest of the NBA's big spenders don't even get a chance.

Nowitzki, Germany too much for China

Art Garcia of the Fort Worth Star Telegram reports that Dirk Nowitzki may be the best player at the World Championships? and China would probably agree. Nowitzki scored 30 popints to lead German over China 88-76.

Nowitzki hit 10 of 18 field goals, 9 of 9 from the free throw line and grabbed 9 rebounds as well. "To guard Dirk Nowitzki completely I don't think is realistic," China coach Wang Fei said. "But you hope when you are guarding him, you can limit his scoring chances."

Houston?s number one draft pick, China?s Yao Ming was hampered by foul trouble and Germany?s aggressive post play. He only played 17 minutes, but scored 16 points with 5 rebounds and 2 blocked shots.

Bucks not tuned out by Karl

Tom Enlund of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Bucks coach George Karl is still talking about the Glenn Robinson trade. While leading Team USA in the World Basketball Championships, Karl spoke to reporters about the trade and his team.

After the Bucks traded Glenn Robinson to the Hawks for Toni Kukoc, Leon Smith and a first round pick, there were many critics. Karl doesn?t understand why people question the trade. He points out that most naysayers are overlooking the fact that the trade could save the Bucks over $18 million. In the era of the luxury tax, that is huge.

Also, Karl expects Kukoc to be a major contributor next season and thinks the draft pick will be a good one. Finally, the trade allows Tim Thomas to start, which could give him a boost in the regular season.

Karl indicated that it is almost a foregone conclusion that the Bucks will be paying the luxury tax next season and he was confident that they will be able to re-sign Michael Redd and possibly Darvin Hamm as well.

Divac Starts War of The Words With U.S.

Yugoslavia is not intimidated

Wizards Could Acquire Russell

Trading Russell Could Help Jazz at Point Guard

Pierce High on Nets

Wang's Mav days likely over

Wizards Could Acquire Russell

Russell trade to D.C.?

Surgery to limit Przybilla's camp time

Patriot games for Karl

Quick fixes not in Vandeweghe's repertoire

Hawks Offseason Notebook

Magic, WRBW extend contract

Wang out of World Championships

Appeals court says Warriors must pay

Bad news for DC

Stoudamire still on the block?

Stoudamire was impressive on Saturday

Wang's status for Worlds affects Mavs

Sixers Sign Skinner

Sonics show interest in Popeye

Odom Retwists Ankle

Another setback for Lamar

With Hunter out, magic look at other options

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