As soon as the trade was announced, Starks, who was vilified in the Windy City when he played with the Knicks from 1990-91 to '97-98, asked Bulls general manager Jerry Krause to trade him again. Krause, who is saving up cap space and could use Starks's $4 million this summer, declined. Starks later offered to forfeit the rest of his salary for his freedom.
Why should the 34-year-old Starks receive special treatment? He was a malcontent on the Warriors when they, too, could have used a little guidance, and he's neither the first nor the last aging player to be acquired strictly for cap purposes. Maybe Starks would generate more sympathy if he were a long-suffering veteran who never had gotten a sniff at a tide—Mitch Richmond comes to mind—but Starks had his shot (after shot after shot) with the Knicks in the 1994 Finals, in which they lost to the Rockets in Game 7 largely because Starks couldn't bury any of his 11 threes.
Among the few who seem to care about Starks's fate is Rookie of the Year candidate Elton Brand, who is the cornerstone of Chicago's rebuilding project, for better or worse, and who was particularly offended, say teammates, by Starks's words and actions. But most of the Bulls aren't pining over him. "It's not like we're discussing John Starks in the locker room, or even on the bus," says veteran Hersey Hawkins. "I think most guys feel, Hey, we can't do anything about it, so why the heck are we going to waste our energy trying to figure out what he's going to do?"
Last time we checked, stashing a healthy player on the injured list, as Chicago has done with Starks, was a blatant violation of the rules of the collective bargaining agreement, but the league has no plans to investigate. "We're not going to look into it," deputy commissioner Russ Granik said late last week, "unless some other team cares. If it did, then we'd pursue it."
Line of the Week
Mavericks guard Eric Strickland, March 11 versus the Suns: 43 minutes, 11-19 FG, 13-17 FT, 36 points, 8 rebounds, 4 steals. Strickland's career high in points helped get Dallas back on the post-Rodman winning track with a 104-99 victory.
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