Leon Smith checks out of hospital, looks to future
Posted: Friday January 07, 2000 07:57 PM
DALLAS (AP) -- Troubled teen-ager Leon Smith took a step Friday toward straightening out his life and restarting his once-promising NBA career.
Smith, under suspension by the Dallas Mavericks and likely to soon become a free agent, checked out of a local psychiatric ward and moved to Houston to begin workouts with former NBA star Moses Malone.
The 19-year-old Smith, who was raised as a ward of Illinois after being estranged from his parents at age 5, will live in a furnished apartment arranged for by the NBA Players Association and will continue receiving counseling.
Mavericks president Terdema Ussery said Friday the team and the Players' union are close to finalizing a deal that would terminate Smith's three-year, $1.45 million contract. The union filed a grievance over Smith's suspension on Wednesday.
"We're not going to discuss any specifics," Ussery said. "We're just going to try to get the deal done and get it documented."
Smith has undergone a series of traumatic episodes -- mostly of his own doing -- since trying to make the leap from a Chicago high school to the NBA.
San Antonio made the 6-foot-10, 235-pound forward the final pick in the first-round of the draft, then traded him to Dallas. He was signed Nov. 2 after an acrimonious summer.
Smith never played in a game or even practiced with his teammates. In mid-November, he was placed in a psychiatric ward after throwing a rock through a car window and swallowing about 250 aspirin.
He returned to Chicago in early December and got into trouble with police on consecutive days.
Smith was jailed for allegedly threatening a former girlfriend with a gun, then hours later he was accused of ramming a car belonging to the ex-girlfriend's mother and smashing out the windows. He was charged with two counts of criminal damage.
Smith is facing a Feb. 3 court date in Chicago for charges stemming from both episodes.
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