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Clippers: Edwards Can’t Go : Basketball: They know he signed with Italian team, but say that he has a year remaining on his NBA contract.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Another new Clipper, center James Edwards, was reported fleeing for Italy but his European career may be one of the briefer ones.

Clipper officials noted Wednesday that Edwards, just acquired from the Detroit Pistons, has a year remaining on his NBA contract and isn’t free to leave, despite the three-year, $5-million deal he recently signed with Knorr Bologna.

Responding to claims made by Edwards’ agent, Clipper officials said they were aware of Edwards’ foreign entanglement but are under no deadline to get him to take a physical examination and hope to reach an understanding that will satisfy him.

Clipper Vice President Andy Roeser spoke with Edwards’ agent, Reggie Turner, Wednesday and said they plan to talk again.

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"(Turner) has said this isn’t a problem the Clippers have created, this is a problem others have created and the Clippers have inherited,” Roeser said.

“Our goal is to make James Edwards a happy member of our organization. He has expressed interest in playing for us. I think the guy just wants to get something taken care of financially.”

Turner has declared it will take a two-year, $3.2-million deal to make Edwards a happy Clipper. However, a Clipper source says the team has only $100,000 free under the salary cap.

Turner couldn’t be reached Wednesday.

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Edwards, according to Turner on Tuesday, was en route to Italy.

Edwards, who will turn 36 in November, is due to earn $993,000 on the last year of his NBA contract. He asked the Pistons for an extension, was turned down, and signed with the Italian team.

Meanwhile, the Pistons agreed on a Scott Hastings-for-Orlando Woolridge deal with Denver, sought room under their cap since Woolridge makes $400,000 more than Hastings. A plan for Isiah Thomas to take a cut was discussed but abandoned.

So the Pistons traded Edwards Tuesday for reserve guard Jeff Martin and a No. 2 draft pick.

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Jack McCloskey, Detroit general manager, expressed confidence that the deal would stand.

“Absolutely, the trade’s going to go through,” he said Wednesday.

Edwards must take a physical within seven days or the Clippers would have the option of voiding the deal. However, McCloskey said that doesn’t represent a deadline, since the Clippers and Pistons could waive the condition.

Roeser said: “We’re confident it can be worked out. If it can, we’ve substantially improved our team. If it can’t, we’re no worse off than we were before the trade.”

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