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Lockout Underway as Business Ceases

From Associated Press

Scottie Pippen was sitting at home in Chicago, his moment in the free agent spotlight postponed indefinitely, and No. 1 draft pick Michael Olowokandi bid the Clippers goodbye and prepared to go back to England.

All around the NBA, players and team officials took care of last-minute business Tuesday before a lockout went into effect at midnight EST. The NBA said it had no choice but to stop operating until it could find a way to bring the growth of player salaries in line with revenues in a new collective bargaining agreement.

Pippen was one of 148 free agents who had been looking forward to today as the day they would be free to shop their services to the highest bidder.

At team offices, staffs were briefed on the rules of the lockout--for example, no direct contact with players for the duration.

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Forward Derrick Coleman, 31, became a free agent after the Philadelphia 76ers decided to pay a $5.6-million buyout in his contract.

Seeking financial flexibility, 76er General Manager Billy King announced that the team chose not to exercise a $13.1-million option for Coleman’s services next season.

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The owners of the New Jersey Nets reached agreement in principle on the sale of a majority interest in the franchise to a group of New Jersey businessmen who may be looking to move the team.

The new ownership group was put together by Finn Wentworth and Stanley Gale of Gale and Wentworth, LLC, a real estate and investment firm. Terms were not disclosed, but the New York Times reported that the group would buy a controlling interest of 65% for $150 million.

Reports indicated that Gale and Wentworth plan to move the team from East Rutherford to downtown Newark, where an arena would be built for the team.

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Dirk Nowitzki, the 6-foot-11 German star, announced that he’ll give up European ball to play for the Dallas Mavericks next season.

Nowitzki, 20, was drafted ninth overall by Milwaukee last week, then traded to Dallas.

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The Seattle SuperSonics announced they won’t exercise the $1.9-million option on the final year of Dale Ellis’ contract, making him a free agent. Ellis, 37, is the NBA’s all-time leading three-point shooter. . . . The Boston Celtics declined to exercise the contract option on guard Tyus Edney, making him a free agent. . . . Veteran point guard Mark Price, 34, was waived by the Orlando Magic. . . . Charles Oakley became an official member of the Toronto Raptors after meeting with team officials. Oakley, 34, was traded to Toronto by the New York Knicks for Marcus Camby last week.

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