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The NBA
Tim Kurkjian
January 16, 1995
Kings in the Making
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January 16, 1995

The Nba

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And Sacramento is suddenly a pretty good team.

Journey to Nowhere

On Jan. 7 the 76ers' road trip from hell finally ended—and not a moment too soon. The longest trek in the league this season began on Dec. 22 in Charlotte and closed in Utah, with slops in Boston, Portland, Seattle, Sacramento, Phoenix and Los Angeles. The Sixers did get home for Christmas Eve but then left Philly on Christmas Day, stopped in South Dakota for two hours for refueling, arrived in Portland and went straight to practice.

The 76ers finished the trip with a 2-6 record—the wins came against the Celtics and the Blazers—to bring their overall mark to 10-21. Other than Philly point guard Dana Barros, who was averaging 19.1. I points and 7.9 assists through Sunday and is performing like an All-Star, and forward Clarence Weatherspoon, no Sixer fared well on the trip.

Seven-fool-six center Shawn Bradley played especially poorly, prompting Philadelphia owner Harold Katz to blast him for not living up to expectations dial earned him an eight-year, $44.2 million contract as the second pick in the 1993 draft. In the eight games Bradley averaged only 5.8 points (on 35% shooting) and fouled out three limes, to bring his season's total to 11 disqualifications. That matched the NBA high for all last year. It also put Bradley on a pace to smash the league record of 26 disqualifications in a sea- son. set by Don Meineke of the Pistons in their 69-game 1952-53 season. Historically, Philadelphia centers are at the other extreme: Wilt Chamberlain. Moses Malone and Mike Gminski played in 962 games as Sixers and never fouled out.

Perhaps it's lime to realize that Bradley is still three years away from being an effective all-around center. Even after strenuous attempts to add heft and muscle, the 248-pound Bradley is still extremely thin and weak. He is no threat in the low post; in fact, the 76er offense is often run with him standing out at the three-point line to draw the opposing center away from the basket. The Sixers hope Bradley will eventually bulk up like 7'4" Pacer center Rik Smits, who was slender his first few seasons but now is sturdier and very tough to handle down low.

Will Clyde Glide?

A sad situation has developed in Portland, where guard Clyde Drexler, the best player in frail Blazer history and a certain Hall of Famer. has demanded to be traded because of what he sees as a lack of respect accorded him by Portland's new management (not including, Drexler stresses. first-year coach P.J. Carlesimo). Part of Drexler's beef" concerns money—with his reported $1.6 million salary, he is only the eighth-highest-paid Blazer. Also, he was angered that he first learned of his near-trade to the Heal last summer from an ESPN report rather than from team officials. He then privately asked new general manager Bob Whitsitt to trade him, but no action was taken. Last week Drexler lashed out publicly, saying, "I want to get out. Anything that means leaving here will make me happy." Even if that means going to a noncontender.

It appears that the Blazers will do everything they can to accommodate Drexler before the trading deadline on Feb. 23. At 32 he is no longer the flying, slam-jamming Clyde the Glide of three years ago, but at week's end he was still averaging 23.3 points a game. And he retains the skills to boost a borderline team into the playoffs—or turn a contender into a champion. The problem is a balloon payment in his contract next year, when he's due to make $8.75 million. "He'll be unmovable next year," one general manager says. Still, a trade might occur because Trail Blazer owner Paul Allen is so loaded that he would, if the right deal came along, pay part of Drexler's 1995-96 contract. And Drexler has hinted that he would alter next season's contract to facilitate a trade.

Line of the Week
Sonic guard Gary Payton on Jan. 4 against the Cavaliers: 14-14 FG, 3-3 FT, 32 points. Only three other players in history have gone 14 for 14 or better: Chamberlain (four times: 18, 16, 15, 14), Bailey Howell (14) and Billy McKinney (14). Chamberlain did it in three consecutive months in '67.

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