Work in Sports
Ready to play
Leon Smith forces Dallas to offer him NBA contract
Posted: Tuesday November 02, 1999 10:51 PM
DALLAS (AP) -- First-round draft pick Leon Smith celebrated his 19th birthday Tuesday by telling the Dallas Mavericks he's ready for the NBA, forcing the team to offer him a three-year, $1.447 million contract.
The Mavericks had hoped to send Smith to a developmental league for most of the season, then add him to the roster for the final month.
But Smith, who had never been too excited about the plan, informed Dallas officials prior to the season opener against Golden State that he didn't want to be farmed out. He'll be in town Wednesday to sign his contract.
"We have developmental people here who can help him, so it won't be a problem," team spokesman Gregg Elkins said.
At age five, Smith was taken from his home in the projects on Chicago's South Side and placed in the custody of the state of Illinois. He grew up in children's homes, shelters and group homes.
Smith, who averaged 25.5 points and 14.5 rebounds as a high school senior, was taken by San Antonio with the final pick of the first round and traded to Dallas for second-round picks in 1999 and 2000.
League rules mandate that first-round picks be tendered contracts.