Queries from SI to the league's general managers produced doubters (all of whom wished to remain anonymous) who question whether the 6' 10" Mourning is a true center, whether his limited offensive skills can be expanded and whether he can learn to handle a double team. While most G.M.s conceded that they would love to have Mourning, one wondered whether he's "a guy who can be your aircraft carrier." Another was more blunt: "When [Chicago's] Luc Longley kicks your butt, there's not a lot you can say about how valuable you are."
Heat owner Micky Arison insists Mourning's postseason performance has not altered his interest. "Zo maybe had one bad game," Arison says. "The first game, he didn't play because he was in foul trouble the whole time. The second game, he didn't do well, and in the third game, I thought he was terrific. [Chicago's] Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan went out in the playoffs three times in a row. I'm sure [Bulls owner] Jerry Reinsdorf is happy he didn't give up on them."
The Heat is also unlikely to give up on point guard Tim Hardaway, who was acquired from the Warriors in February. Hardaway will be back unless he demands a substantial raise (he made $3.7 million this season) or Miami can pry Gary Pay-ton, another free-agent point guard, away from Seattle (highly unlikely).
But Miami has no interest in retaining forward Walt Williams, who scored two points in the final two playoff games. When he was acquired from Sacramento in February, Williams was adamant that at the end of the season, he would exercise a contractual escape clause allowing him to become a free agent. But now that his value has plummeted, Williams is reconsidering, and Miami might be stuck with him for two more years at $2.8 million and $3.1 million, respectively. If so, the team will actively try to trade him.
The Heat is undecided about another of its free-agents-to-be, backup forward-center Chris Gatling. But if Nuggets center Dikembe Mutombo is interested in coming to Miami, as his fellow Georgetown alum Mourning claims, Gatling would not be re-signed and Mourning would move to power forward. And though the Heat is undecided whether to re-sign shooting guard Rex Chapman—like Mourning and Mutombo, a David Falk client—there's speculation that Chapman is tied to Mourning in a package deal. Says Falk, "If Zo wants Rex as a teammate, then I think Miami would consider that a good idea. But that's Zo's call."
The Buck Stops Where?
Mike Dunleavy knew Milwaukee owner Herb Kohl wanted him gone, so when the two met last week, Dunleavy was expecting to work out a settlement that would release him from the four years and $6.4 million left on his coach/general manager's contract. Instead, sources say, Kohl balked at eating Dunleavy's salary and simply stripped him of his coaching duties.
Dunleavy's G.M. title, however, no longer carries any clout. In fact, sources confirm, Kohl already has gone searching for front-office help, beginning with University of Utah coach Rick Majerus, who was approached about becoming coach/G.M. but removed himself from consideration.
SI has learned that Kohl also contacted veteran Spurs guard Doc Rivers concerning the posts. Rivers, a Marquette alumnus who is expected to retire after this season, is in the middle of the playoffs with San Antonio and won't address his future until his season is over. Rivers would be interested only in a management job.
Where does all this leave Dunleavy? Ticked off enough, the Bucks are hoping, to quit and take a job elsewhere.