criticism and rumblings, Maggette has never publicly exploded in response or,
as far as anyone on the outside knew, cut back on his effort. "Corey plays
as hard as anybody in the league," says Suns assistant Alvin Gentry. But
just when it seemed the Clippers were ready to commit to Maggette, offering an
extension on his deal, which runs out next season, Maggette said he will let
the Oct.�31 deadline pass, setting himself up to be an unrestricted free
agent next year.
All in all, this
could be the year of Maggette. He'll be playing for a new contract and, for at
least the start of the season, playing without another 20-points-per-game
scorer on the floor. "You have to pick up the slack," says Maggette,
"and that's what I plan to do."--J.M.
team's scout sizes up the Clippers
I don't see a lot
of answers on their roster for the losses of Elton Brand (left Achilles) and
Shaun Livingston (left knee). Corey Maggette couldn't possibly be more selfish
than he was last year; Sam Cassell is nearly 38 and at the end of the trail. .
. . Chris Kaman will be a crucial guy for them. If he can get back on track
after leveling off last season, he can help them as a guy in the half-court who
can make a play inside. Defensively he'll have to be their anchor and really
step it up if they want to remain competitive. . . . I like the energy they're
getting from rookie Al Thornton, though he's a little wild. He plays at a high
speed, and I don't know if he's always under control, but he gets to where he
wants to go. They'll need to rely on him more. . . . Every time I see Tim
Thomas, I'm asking, Why is this guy not better? He's capable of shooting the
ball and making plays around the basket, and he's more than athletic and
skilled enough. But instead he just floats around, not playing hard, not mixing
L.A. tied for the
NBA lead with 5.76 blocks per game, the second-lowest leading average since the
stat became official in 1973-74. The lowest (5.56) was by the '74-75 Buffalo
Braves, who later became the Clippers.