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Manning’s Future Remains Uncertain

Times Staff Writer

The future of Clipper rookie forward Danny Manning will remain uncertain until at least early next week, when doctors will be able to better determine how seriously he damaged a ligament in his right knee.

Tests taken Thursday in Los Angeles, where Manning went after suffering the injury in Wednesday’s loss at Milwaukee, showed that “there appears to be some damage to his anterior cruciate ligament,” according to Dr. Tony Daly, the Clippers’ team physician.

That raised the possibility of surgery and a long rehabilitation. Manning originally was diagnosed as having a hyperextended knee.

The Clippers, who meet the Indiana Pacers here tonight, are saying only that Manning will be sidelined indefinitely and re-evaluated early next week, when the swelling on the knee subsides. The injury, in a worse-case scenario, is similar to the long-term setbacks suffered by Bernard King, now with the Washington Bullets, and former Laker Mitch Kupchak.

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“We’ll run tests over the next week to determine the extent of the injury and then decide if surgery is necessary,” Daly said.

Said Manning, in a prepared statement: “I’ve been in better spirits, but I’m not going to jump to any conclusions. I’ll just try to prepare myself for whatever happens.”

Coach Gene Shue refused to comment Thursday night on the possibility of losing Manning for an extended time. He said the club will first search for a replacement on a 10-day contract, hoping that the Clippers’ second-leading scorer (16.7 points a game) and third-leading rebounder (6.6), not to mention one of the prime candidates for league rookie of the year, will only miss about 5 games.

That may be wishful thinking.

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“We’re going on the assumption that it will be short-term,” Shue said. “That’s why we should go ahead and pick somebody up for 10 days.

“Short term, we’ll survive. If it’s anything more, it will be difficult.”

Several candidates have already been lined up for immediate help, the most likely being Dave Popson, who spent 14 games with the Clippers before being cutDec. 8.

But the list also includes Randy Allen, who spent training camp with the Sacramento Kings and now plays for Cedar Rapids of the Continental Basketball Assn.; Larry Spriggs, the ex-Laker who was with the Charlotte Hornets during camp, and Eric White, who played 17 games for the Clippers last season.

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The loss of Manning, even a brief one, comes at an inopportune time for the Clippers (10-20).

Shue said Greg Kite, still recovering from a bruised right cheekbone and fluid in the nasal cavity, probably will not play tonight, and Charles Smith, who missed the last 2 games with illnesses, will not start and may not play much. Like Manning, both play in the front court.

Arn Tellem, the Clippers’ general counsel and chief contract negotiator for 5 1/2 years, announced his resignation, effective immediately, to concentrate on personal representation.

“Everything was very amicable (with the Clippers),” Tellem said. “It’s just a personal decision on how I want to develop my career.

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“My first love is representing players, and I want to devote my full energies to that. It’s very hard to leave the Clippers, because of the emotions and the positive ties I’ve had with the people.”

Tellem already represents Eric Dickerson of the Indianapolis Colts, Mark Langston of the Seattle Mariners, Reggie Miller of the Indiana Pacers and former USC women’s basketball All-American Cheryl Miller, among others.

His resignation from the Clippers--and as a partner in the law firm of Manatt, Phelps, Rothenberg & Phillips, which handles team business--allows him to add National Basketball Assn. players to the list.

A recent league rule prevents anyone who represents a team or an owner to be a player’s agent, although Tellem was allowed to keep his affiliation with Reggie Miller because it predated the rule.

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Hes will begin his own practice while being affiliated with the Santa Monica firm of O’Neill & Lysaght. No replacement for Tellem has been named by the Clippers.


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