Clippers Get Edwards--or a Big Headache : NBA: They trade reserve guard Martin and a draft pick to get 7-foot-1 Piston center, but he is on his way to Italy.


The Clippers acquired 7-foot-1 center James Edwards from the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday, giving up guard Jeff Martin and their second-round pick in 1995.

At least they thought they did.

Edwards’ agent, Reggie Turner, said that his client will not take the Clippers’ physical in the alloted five days. That would not only nullify the Clippers’ deal, but also Detroit’s trade on Tuesday that sent center-forward Scott Hastings and their 1992 second-round pick to the Denver Nuggets in exchange for 6-9 forward Orlando Woolridge.

Turner described the deal that would send Edwards to the Clippers as “bogged down in a quagmire of deceit, deception and misdirection. Other than that, just your basic trade.”


Turner said Edwards was en route to Italy on Tuesday to begin conditioning for the upcoming professional season there. Edwards, 35, signed a three-year, $4.5-million contract with Knorr Bologna last week, Turner said. Knorr Bologna will begin its season Aug. 24.

Edwards has one year left on his Detroit contract at $933,000 per year. Turner said Edwards will not report to training camp with any NBA team unless he has a new two-year, $3.2-million contract.

Woolridge has a five-year, $4-million contract and wouldn’t fit under the salary cap in Detroit unless Edwards’ or another big salary was unloaded.

Detroit General Manager Jack McCloskey has talked to Piston guard Isiah Thomas about taking a pay cut so the team could squeeze Woolridge under the $12.5-million cap, which the Pistons exceed by about $700,000. Magic Johnson took a $100,000 pay cut last year so the Lakers could afford to sign Terry Teagle.


Turner said McCloskey failed to disclose to the Clippers that Edwards was leaving Tuesday for Italy.

But McCloskey denied that he deceived the Clippers.

“I told both Reggie and (Clipper General Manager) Elgin Baylor to talk to each other last week,” McCloskey said. “Whether they did or not, that’s all I know.

“I told James last night (Monday), ‘Don’t go to Italy because you are going to be traded.’ I did not tell him to what team.

“I talked to him this morning and said, ‘Your trade is completed.’

“I guess he’s going to Italy for a free trip.”

Baylor was vacationing in Hawaii and could not be reached for comment.

McCloskey said he would not be unhappy if the deal is nullified.


“That’s not all bad at all,” he said. “I’ll just work another deal out for Woolridge.”

But Turner said that Edwards will become a “10-and-5,” player next season--a 10-year veteran who has spent five years with his team--giving Edwards the ability to veto a trade. “Obviously, Jack McCloskey doesn’t want to be in that bind,” Turner said.

Edwards, a member of the Pistons’ NBA championship teams in 1989 and 1990, is near the end of a career that began with the Lakers in 1977 and included stints with Indiana, Cleveland and Phoenix as well as Detroit.

Clipper Coach Mike Schuler said: “James Edwards is a proven winner. His vast experience and knowledge will only help to make the Clippers a much-improved basketball team.

“At the end of the season, we felt our two primary needs were to acquire veteran players at the point guard and center positions. We accomplished that with the acquisition of Doc Rivers in June and today with James Edwards.”

Edwards was the Lakers’ No. 3 pick from Washington in the 1977 draft. He has averaged 14.3 points and 5.9 rebounds in his 14-year career and has been to the playoffs in seven of the last 11 seasons. Last year, he averaged 13.6 points and 3.8 rebounds in 72 games.

Martin, 24, drafted by the Clippers in the second round in 1989, played in 74 games last year, averaging 7.1 points.

Woolridge, 31, was traded to Denver from the Lakers last year. He averaged 25.1 points last season, but played in only 53 games because of a detached retina.


Times staff writer Shav Glick contributed to this story.