Minnesota must now try to pick up the pieces, beginning with Brandon, who can become a free agent this summer. Both sides say it's quite possible that Brandon and the Timberwolves will agree on a contract extension, although the terms will depend on what Minnesota gets with its newly acquired draft pick. If the Timberwolves draft a point guard (they, along with every other team in the league, love Maryland's Steve Francis), they might make an amicable sign-and-trade deal involving Brandon. Why such optimism about a potential free agent, in light of their recent experiences with Marbury and Gugliotta? Maybe because Brandon is represented by Bill Duffy, McHale's former teammate and roommate at the University of Minnesota—"a guy who really does have his client's best interests at heart," says McHale.
Falk scolds McHale for his "unprofessional comments" regarding Marbury's departure. "Can you say my fingerprints are all over this? Absolutely," Falk says. "I negotiated a deal to get my client where he wanted to go—home. I helped [the Timberwolves] out of a potentially disastrous situation.
"Did this work out better, or worse, than the Gugliotta situation? If Kevin McHale had called Stephon's bluff, Minnesota would have ended up with nothing."
McHale is clearly dismayed. "We live in a Nintendo world," he said last week. "If you don't like the game, press the restart button. Steph wants better endorsements, more TV exposure. I tried to tell him, it's not where you are, it's whether you win. The Clippers are in L.A. How often are they on TV? And these days you can't get Indiana off the tube because it's winning all the time. I wonder if Steph has noticed the Nets are 3-15. If he wants to be on TV with them, he better get cable."
Rice Makes Nice?
The Lakers finally consummated their long-awaited, much-debated blockbuster trade with Charlotte on March 10, acquiring Glen Rice, the shooter they so desperately wanted. They gave up big man Elden Campbell and shooting guard Eddie Jones, a talented player deemed expendable because of his penchant for going south in the postseason.
Even though Los Angeles is stocked with premier players and had won nine straight when it got Rice, the mood in the organization was surprisingly downbeat. Front-office boss Jerry West is distraught over recent changes, including the signing of Dennis Rodman—who left the team indefinitely last Saturday to deal with personal problems—and the firing of his friend Del Harris. Sources say meddling by owner Jerry Buss has West thinking about retirement again. Says one player, "We might be the un-happiest team ever to win nine straight."
West, who refused to discuss his own future, agrees with that assessment. "I don't want them deceiving themselves," West says of his players. "We're still not a very good basketball team."
The Terrell Is Gone
The Bucks underwent a mid-season overhaul last week even though they were fighting Indiana for the top spot in the Central Division. Not the best time for major surgery, but they had little choice.