HEAT TRADES: FOR LOVE OR MONEY? LAETTNER FLIES SOUTH FOX FOCUSED AFTER TREATMENT FOR ATTENTION DEFICIT DISORDER

March 04, 1996

DEALING FOR DOLLARS

Remember the Dark Ages, or at least the era before the NBA's new
collective bargaining agreement, when trades were made because
teams clamored for certain players? Now, given the tighter
constraints of the salary cap, deals are made not only to
acquire talent but also--perhaps more significantly--to create
room for future maneuvering under the cap. Last Thursday, the
final day this season on which deals could be swung, nobody did
a more masterly job of achieving both aims than the Heat.

And after a more traditional trade, the happiest team may have
been the Timberwolves, who shipped an unhappy Christian Laettner
out of Minnesota.

With coach and ruler of the franchise Pat Riley at the controls,
Miami traded a total of five players to three teams. In return
the Heat acquired five players who have one striking quality in
common: All will be free agents this summer. Riley insists that
his new Heat players--forward Tyrone Corbin and swingman Walt
Williams (both from the Kings), center-forward Chris Gatling and
point guard Tim Hardaway (formerly of the Warriors) and guard
Tony Smith (late of the Suns)--share one other quality: They are
players he wants to keep. "A lot of people think these trades
were based solely on cap ramifications, but that's not true,"
says Riley. "It was two-pronged. Some of these guys have been at
the top of our list [to acquire]."And during Sunday's 108-101
victory over the 76ers, Gatling (10 points, 10 rebounds),
Hardaway (20 points, nine assists) and Williams (12 points on
four three-pointers) provided some on-court justification for
the moves.

But while Riley might like Hardaway, he also has the option of
trying to re-sign him after the season for any salary he
chooses, including one smaller than the $3.7 million Hardaway
earns now. If Hardaway isn't comfortable with Miami's offer,
he's free to walk, and the Heat is free to spend the $3.7
million elsewhere. Applying that principle across the board,
Miami has positioned itself to keep the players it wants, for
the price it wants. If the remaining free agents walk, there
will be cash for the really big fish on the market, such as the
Bullets' Juwan Howard and the Sonics' Gary Payton.

With next season's salary cap expected to be about $25 million,
league sources estimate Miami's trading-deadline purge gives the
Heat a potential $13 million with which to wheel and deal this
summer in the free-agent market. And that's assuming they will
have re-signed center Alonzo Mourning, who is earning $4.6
million this year and is also a free agent come summer. The Heat
has only three players--Keith Askins, Sasha Danilovic and Kurt
Thomas--under contract for next season; their combined salaries
are just under $3.8 million. Here's a closer look at the Heat's
deadline-day dealings.

--Center-forward Kevin Willis and guard Bimbo Coles to Golden
State for Hardaway and Gatling. Willis was never in Riley's
plans and probably isn't in the Warriors' either, but he is an
unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, and his salary
($3.65 million) almost matches Hardaway's. In other words, by
taking Willis, Golden State preserved the financial freedom it
would have had by holding on to Hardaway--and the Warriors were
able to unload a malcontent at the same time. Hardaway had been
feuding with both coach Rick Adelman and teammate Latrell
Sprewell.

Coles is making a little over $1 million this season, with four
more years to run, but he wasn't Riley's point guard of choice.
In Gatling, Riley gets a big body (6'10", 230 pounds) who makes
$1.5 million and whose contract is up this summer. In sum the
Heat gives up $4.65 million in salaries and takes on $5.2
million that can be used to sign other players come the start of
the free-agent signing period on July 1.

--Guard-forward Kevin Gamble and forward Billy Owens to
Sacramento for Corbin and Williams. The Kings were struggling,
needed to shake things up and, sources say, were aware it would
be next to impossible to re-sign Williams. The Wizard, who has
an escape clause after this season, wanted to play in a bigger
market and planned on asking for around $6 million a year. He's
currently on the books at $2.4 million. So the Kings grabbed
Owens, knowing he has no perimeter game but can drive to the
hole and work out of the post. Owens is making $3.3 million and
has two years left at $3.7 million and $4.2 million.

The Kings felt Williams was an on-again, off-again defender, but
Riley says that he thought Williams had the tools to be "a 6'8"
Magic Johnson" when he came out of Maryland in 1992. As for the
defensive lapses, Riley says, "Walt will get in line
defensively, because our system dictates it." Williams's agent,
Len Elmore, says that his client will still become a free agent.

Gamble ($845,000 salary) had an automatic 15% raise in his
contract if Miami traded him, but the Heat gladly agreed to pay
that bonus for the Kings. Gamble has four years remaining on his
deal, but he can opt out after this season. Sacramento is hoping
he'll provide some occasional perimeter relief.

Bottom line: Miami drops two players with long-term contracts
and a lack of toughness; the Heat gets two intriguing
free-agents-in-waiting, including Corbin ($1.7 million salary).

--Guard Terrence Rencher to Phoenix for Smith. You get the drill
by now. Rencher ($200,000 salary) was not a vital cog in Riley's
wheel, while Smith ($500,000), who drew mild interest from the
Heat last summer as a free agent, will add depth to the
backcourt. And--guess what?--his contract is up this summer.

On the same day the Heat was wheeling and dealing, Laettner was
relocated from Minneapolis to Atlanta. He sealed his fate with
the Timberwolves last week with his jealous tirade against
rookie sensation Kevin Garnett. Laettner said, "You've got to
have the rookies and the young kids shut up." He added, "There's
not a winner on our team. Name a winner on this team, besides
me." (He did win two NCAA titles at Duke.) Laettner is a
complementary player who makes more than complementary money
($4.5 million next year, $5 million the season after that), and
the Timberwolves were happy to package him with center Sean
Rooks in exchange for center Andrew Lang and guard Spud Webb.
Webb, who earns $1.8 million, becomes a free agent this summer
and probably won't be re-signed. Hawks coach Lenny Wilkens
developed a good relationship with Laettner in 1992 while
serving as an assistant coach with the original Dream Team and
feels he can curb Laettner's petulance. Laettner's parting shot
to the Timberwolves: "I've had four coaches in four years. None
of them was a head coach before, and none of them was a head
coach after." (Laettner conveniently forgot that the first of
his coaches, Jimmy Rodgers, led the Celtics for two seasons
before his stint with the T-wolves in 1991-92 and '92-93.)

FOX GETS ATTENTION

Celtics swingman Rick Fox is having the finest season of his pro
career, in part because the departures of forwards Dominique
Wilkins and Xavier McDaniel presented him with additional
playing time, but also, says Fox, because he has learned to cope
with attention deficit disorder, which has afflicted him since
childhood but was diagnosed only two years ago.

ADD is a neurological condition that causes a marked inability
to sustain concentration and is usually associated with
children. But according to Dr. Edward Hallowell, who has treated
Fox and who himself suffers from ADD, between six million and
eight million adults in the U.S. also suffer from ADD--and more
than 50% never know it.

Two years ago Mary Hilsman, the mother of Fox's girlfriend,
Kari, attended a lecture given by Hallowell and heard him
de-scribe the symptoms of ADD, which include impulsiveness,
restlessness and susceptibility to distraction. Hilsman came
away thinking of Fox. When she and Kari urged Fox to consider
treatment, he angrily refused. "My feeling was, I've come this
far in my life. Why should I change anything?" says Fox. "It
seemed like they were telling me I was crazy."

Yet even Fox would not deny that he had trouble focusing, both
at home and on the basketball court. He would drift off while a
coach diagrammed a key play in a team huddle. He would push the
ball up the floor on the break, his mind racing, unable to
decide whether to pass or shoot.

Fox finally agreed to see Hallowell, who reviewed Fox's history
and explained why some of his actions were disjointed and why
other people became frustrated with him. "It's comforting to get
a reason why you are there one minute and not the next,"
Hallowell says.

At Hallowell's direction Fox took the prescription medication
Ritalin for about two weeks in the summer of 1994 and was able
to concentrate well enough to read an entire newspaper for the
first time. But when his blood pressure skyrocketed, he stopped
taking the medication and has since used mental exercises to
improve his focus. "I see things in a whole new light," says
Fox. "So do the people in my life. I went back to Carolina and
told coach [Dean] Smith I had ADD, and he said, 'Oh, that
explains it.'"

Through Sunday, Fox led the Celtics in assists (4.9) and was
second in scoring (14.1 ppg). Boston coach/executive vice
president M.L. Carr says he sees a more reliable player who has
assumed more responsibility. "Now that he's come to grips with
this issue, he can make a mistake and know it's not the end,"
says Carr. "He still needs to be pulled from a game sometimes
when he gets befuddled, but he's able to gather himself and go
back in."

Hallowell says Fox's public declaration that he has ADD will
help children with the condition understand that they should not
be ashamed of it. "Kids with ADD need to know they are not
mental or stupid or weird," says Hallowell. "Now that Rick Fox
says he has it, they're going to believe us when we tell them
it's O.K."

LINE OF THE WEEK

Heat guard Rex Chapman, last Friday, versus the Bulls: 40 M,
12-17 FG, 9-10 3PT, 6-7 FT, 39 points. Chapman was one of only
eight players available to the Heat that evening because four of
its new acquisitions had yet to join the club. But he was by far
the hottest, helping Miami tie the team record of 15 treys while
stunning the mighty Bulls 113-104. Chapman and Co. led by as
many as 26 points in the third quarter before holding off a
fourth-quarter Chicago surge.

AROUND THE RIM

A couple of nondeals on the day of the trading deadline: Golden
State tried to send Rony Seikaly to Boston for Eric Montross,
but the Warriors would not take on Dee Brown and his remaining
four years as part of the package; Cleveland made a pitch for
Montross by dangling first-round picks, but the Cavs wouldn't
part with any of their potential lottery selections....Word out
of Gotham is that the Knicks will make a strong push for
Mourning this summer because they want him--and because detested
former Knicks coach Riley is the one that has him.... Phoenix
forward Charles Barkley (season averages: 23.7 points and 12.3
rebounds) averaged 27.4 points and 13.3 rebounds in the first
seven games after Danny Manning returned from his one-year
layoff following reconstructive surgery on his left anterior
cruciate ligament. By contrast Lakers guard Eddie Jones (season
average: 11.3 points) averaged 7.0 points a game in the first
seven games after Magic Johnson un-retired.

COLOR PHOTO: BILL FRAKES If Hardaway plays the way he did in his 20-point Miami debut, the Heat may just want him to stick around. [Tim Hardaway]COLOR PHOTO: LOUIS CAPOZZOLA Knick John Starks had a floor-level view of Laettner's 12-point inaugural performance as a Hawk. [John Starks on floor below Christian Laettner]COLOR PHOTO: STEVE LIPOFSKY Since his ADD diagnosis, Fox has caught the fans' attention. [Rick Fox]

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