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As Trade Bait, Ferry Ranks High : Clippers Are Listening to Offers for Their Top Draft Pick

Times Staff Writer

Round and round they go, trade rumors nonstop for a player who’s ‘round the world.

Danny Ferry isn’t in the National Basketball Assn.? Wrong. Danny Ferry is very much a part of the league, even as his season began in Italy. Mr. Popular, in absentia.

The Clippers have talked trade, if only on a peripheral level, ever since they made the 6-foot-10 All-American forward the No. 2 pick in the June 27 draft. And the talks continued until the day Ferry signed with Il Messaggero in Rome. And even now, with Ferry playing in Italy, the talks have kept going.

Why? It’s partly because of the gathering of most front-office personnel and coaches at the recent league meeting that has made the ferry-go-round the most popular ride in the NBA.

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Let’s take a spin down the rumor mill:

--From Charlotte, two No. 1 draft choices and a player, perhaps Dell Curry.

--From Golden State, Ralph Sampson and a No. 1, at least before the Warriors traded Sampson to Sacramento.

--From Miami, Kevin Edwards and a No. 1.

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--From San Antonio, Willie Anderson and a No. 1, although Spur Chairman Red McCombs does not want to part with Anderson, despite the cool relations between last season’s rookie-of-the-year runner-up and Coach Larry Brown. Or, Frank Brickowski and a No. 1 and a No. 2.

--From Philadelphia, Hersey Hawkins and a No. 1.

--From Cleveland, Ron Harper and a No. 1.

Clipper General Manager Elgin Baylor said he has talked with “10 or 11 teams” since Ferry was drafted but would not discuss details, except to say that talks never reached the serious stage. That is not a surprise, considering that other teams would naturally look to take advantage of the Clippers’ misfortune of losing their No. 1 pick.

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“It came out . . . that we would listen to offers for Danny Ferry,” Baylor said. “Many teams have called us about him, but some of the trade rumors have started before we had even talked to some teams.

“I won’t deny that we’ve talked to several clubs, but I won’t comment on what we’ve discussed.”

Owner Donald T. Sterling would prefer to keep Ferry, at least until the spring, when the matter can be reassessed after the Italian season. But he also understands the offers are coming.

“If it’s a reasonable and an equitable offer, we might make a trade,” he said. “Are we soliciting offers? No. But are we getting calls? Yes. There have been a number of offers. Most have been for multiple draft choices, and we probably, if we were to make a trade, would expect players first and draft choices second.”

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Most trade talk seems to be about both, probably so the Clippers could get a player they want and the other team would not lose too many bodies until Ferry could return next season. Most of all, though, it’s because of a growing feeling within the organization that the time has come to let an already young team grow without the worry of adding three rookies every year. Do they really need two more first-round draft choices coming in next season?

Sterling, as Baylor and director of scouting Barry Hecker have said, insists that the Clippers had no indication Ferry would balk at coming to a team loaded with forwards and stories of ineptness. And Ferry himself has said it was not a Clipper-motivated move.

So why are there so many disbelievers?

Or are some people talking trade with the Clippers expecting a fire sale to try and recoup some of the losses from Ferry’s departure?

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That thinking, Sterling said, would be wrong.

“I don’t think Danny Ferry’s decision to go to Europe was bad,” he said. “But I also don’t think it’s his ultimate decision. As he explained it, the decision is for one year and he intends to consider coming back to America to play in the NBA. His rights are very valuable, and our organization is always looking to improve. If we could trade those rights for equal value or better, we would seriously consider making the trade. If not, we will retain them.”

But as Orlando Magic General Manager Pat Williams told the Orlando Sentinel: “Realistically, if Danny had been picked by any other team in the NBA, this wouldn’t have happened. This was just his way of making his unhappiness with the Clippers clear to everyone.”

Let the bidding continue.

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The Clippers came to a contract agreement with guard Jeff Martin of Murray State Friday.

The numbers for Martin, the 31st player selected in the draft, are similar to those that Jay Edwards, the 33rd pick, agreed to the day before--three years, two of which are guaranteed. Martin, as the higher choice, will get a slight boost from Edwards’ estimated $200,000 rookie salary.

Martin, a 6-foot-6, 195-pound shooting guard, was the Ohio Valley Conference player of the year last season at Murray State in Kentucky after averaging 25.6 points a game. He became the Clippers’ No. 1 property from the draft when Ferry signed to play in Italy.


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