Opponents have noticed the strife. "I know there's dissension, because I know those guys personally," says Detroit forward Jerome Williams. "You can sense it when you play them."
All this paints a bleak picture for Richmond, who will be a free agent this summer. He desperately wants a final big payday, but he welcomed a trade out of Sacramento because he was tired of losing. If Richmond doesn't re-sign with Washington, he'll forfeit his Larry Bird rights and likely have to settle for significantly less cash from a cap-strapped contender. For a player who has been underpaid most of his career (he's making just $1.5 million this shortened season), that's a sobering reality. "I thought it would be a lot easier," Richmond says of his rocky transition in D.C. "But there are still some games left to figure it out. We have some nice pieces here."
Strickland, who re-upped with the Wizards in February after thorny negotiations, has told Richmond to do what's best for himself. "I like Mitch, and I love playing with him," says Strickland, "but if he sees that things aren't going well here, he has every right to move on."
The Fine Line
Patrick Ewing, Knicks
March 2 versus Miami: 43 minutes, 10-26 FG, 11-14 FT, 31 points, 16 rebounds, 6 blocks. At age 36 and still getting back into shape after wrist surgery and protracted labor negotiations, Ewing outplayed MVP candidate Alonzo Mourning (28 points, 11 rebounds, 7 blocks). Even though he missed a game-winning shot at the buzzer, this was an impressive performance by the much maligned Knicks center.