Manning Awaits Fate After Clipper Loss


A ballboy handed Danny Manning a plastic bag before Wednesday night’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers.

“What’s this?” Manning asked as he opened it.

It was filled with T-shirts along with a note asking Manning to autograph them for the Clipper cheerleaders.

Sportscaster Rich Marotta walked into the locker room with a camera and asked a reporter to take a picture of him standing next to Manning.


“This is for my wall of fame,” Marotta told Manning.

Manning displayed little emotion before and after what could have been his last game as a Clipper. He scored 26 points as the Clippers lost to the Trail Blazers for the second consecutive night, 121-112, before 8,847 at the Sports Arena.

Fans pleaded with Clipper Coach Bob Weiss to take Manning out in the final minute so they could give him an ovation, but Weiss ignored them. Manning, who made 10 of 24 shots and had nine rebounds and five assists, took a three-point shot from the right side that glanced off the rim with 12 seconds left.

Ironically, the Eagles’ “Already Gone” played over the public address system at the start of the fourth quarter.

As Manning stepped to the podium to address a crowd of reporters after the game, he said: “Is this the final time we do this?”

The leading scorer in Clipper history with 7,120 points in 373 games, Manning was asked to summarize his Clipper career, “Bittersweet,” he said. “Bitter because we probably haven’t won as many games as I would have liked us to, sweet because I got a chance to establish myself in this league and I got a chance to live in a great city and I enjoyed it while I was here.”

Will he spend today waiting by the phone?

“It’s my son’s birthday, and I don’t answer the phone to begin with,” Manning said. “If I’m traded, I’ll get word somehow.”


Did Manning have any special emotions?

“Nope,” he said. “Who’s to say that it’s my last game in a Clipper uniform? Who’s to say it’s not?”

The Clippers are likely to trade Manning, who could be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, by today’s 6 p.m. PST NBA trading deadline.

While the Clippers have closely guarded their intentions, there is growing sentiment among NBA general managers that they will deal Manning, the NBA’s seventh leading scorer with a 23.6 average, to Atlanta for Dominique Wilkins, the NBA’s sixth leading scorer with a 24.4 average.

Wilkins said before last week’s game against the Clippers that he can’t worry about trade rumors.

Clipper owner Donald T. Sterling huddled with his chief lieutenants, Elgin Baylor and Andy Roeser, at midcourt during Wednesday’s game.

Manning said he’s grown weary of the speculation.

“This is getting old,” Manning said with a laugh. “I’ll be honest with you.”

The Clippers had the opportunity to trade Manning to Miami for forwards Glen Rice and Willie Burton last October, but the deal fell through.


Ron Grinker, Manning’s agent, claimed that Sterling vetoed the deal, however the Clippers say their executive committee of Coach Bob Weiss, Baylor and Sterling nixed the deal because they believed that they might be able to re-sign Manning.

However, it quickly became clear that their perception was wrong. While Manning has had the best season of his six-year NBA career, his contract status and the loss of center Stanley Roberts because of an Achilles’ tendon injury, seems to have had an unsettling effect on the Clippers, amid their worst season since 1991.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen, but it’s been really tough for the guys in general,” guard Mark Jackson said.

Clipper Notes

Clipper forward Charles Outlaw, whose 10-day contract expires today, said he hasn’t been given an indication whether the Clippers will sign him to another 10-day contract.