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NBA : Starting Referees Still Out

From Associated Press

When the NBA opens its season Friday, it will probably be without its regular referees.

The NBA said Wednesday it will start the season with two-man replacement crews because it has been unable to come to contract terms with its regular officials, locked out since Oct. 1.

Further raising the stakes in the contract dispute, the NBA also said it will begin training additional replacements so three-man crews could be in place no later than the All-Star break in February.

“In light of the fact our referees appear intransigent on this issue, this is going to be a long confrontation,” Commissioner David Stern said.

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The NBA said negotiators for the referees’ union rejected a salary offer that would pay first-year refs, who made $68,000 last year, $74,000 this season and $79,000 in the fifth and final year of the contract. The most senior officials, who made $177,000 last season, would make $201,000 this season and $253,000 in the fifth year.

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Alonzo Mourning failed to show for one of his team’s practices, heightening the possibility the Charlotte Hornets might trade the star center.

Mourning, locked in a contract dispute, did not attend the team’s two-hour late-morning workout at its practice complex in neighboring Fort Mill, S.C.

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While stopping short of saying Mourning’s absence was excused, Coach Allan Bristow was reluctant to elaborate. When asked where Mourning was, the coach said: “He didn’t practice today.” When asked if Mourning was sick, Bristow responded: “I’m sure. Too much Halloween candy.”

Mourning showed up for the afternoon workout.

Notes

Roy Tarpley’s on-again, off-again career with the Dallas Mavericks has hit another bump, with the team still trying to decide his status for the season’s start. The forward has an inflamed pancreas and he will either go on the injured list or the suspended list, President and General Manager Norm Sonju said. If Tarpley is put on the suspended list, the club would pay nothing toward his $3.9-million salary. But on the injured list, he will be paid as he gets into shape. . . . Washington Bullet guard Mark Price is considering having surgery on his ailing left foot, an operation that could sideline him for several months. Price, 31, obtained from the Cleveland Cavaliers in a preseason trade, has an inflammation of the tissue running from the heel to the toe. The injury flared up after the first practice of training camp, and he has been sidelined since. . . . John Battle, a 10-year veteran guard who had arthroscopic surgery on both knees before last season, was waived by Cleveland, reducing the Cavaliers’ roster to 12.

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