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Agent Tells Clippers Wilkins to Test Market

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

Steve Kauffman, who represents Clipper forward Dominique Wilkins, said his client will test the free-agent market because he has been unable to reach a contract agreement with the Clippers. Kauffman said that he informed the Clippers of the decision late Friday.

“Dominique has decided to play the market out and just see what would happen in free agency,” Kauffman said. “We made some efforts to see if we might be able to reach terms with the Clippers, but it just doesn’t seem possible at this time.

“There’s no hard feelings, but we just want to see what’s out there and explore our options and see if this is the right fit for him. We’re just basically not going to do anything until after July 1.”

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Wilkins, in the final year of a contract that pays him $3.5 million this season, reportedly is seeking a $21-million, three-year deal from the Clippers. Wilkins would be 37 when the contract ends.

Wilkins, acquired from the Atlanta Hawks last month for forward Danny Manning and a conditional first-round draft pick in 1994 or 1995, can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 if the Clippers don’t sign him. However, if the Clippers lose Wilkins, they could use his salary slot to sign another free agent.

Clipper spokesman Joe Safety maintains that the club will sign Wilkins, who has averaged 30.4 points in 10 games as the Clippers have gone 5-5.

“Our hope and our plan has always been and still is to have Dominique with us, hopefully for the rest of his career,” Safety said. “Basically, this is just the kind of rhetoric you would expect to hear at this point in a (negotiating) process.”

Said Kauffman: “I think (Wilkins) still is in the process of deciding whether or not he wants to play for the Clippers. I think he feels that a big burden has been lifted off his shoulders because this thing has been weighing on his mind for the last couple of weeks and now that he knows that he’s going to see what happens in July and nothing is going to happen for the next several months, it’s probably a bit of a relief.”


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