Penny Hardaway was dealt to the Phoenix Suns, Dell Curry burned the Milwaukee Bucks by bolting to Toronto Raptors and Calbert Cheaney turned down a trade to the Miami Heat and signed with the Boston Celtics instead.
It was another busy day of player movement in the NBA, with no move bigger than the one sending Hardaway to the Suns for Danny Manning, Pat Garrity and two future first-round draft picks.
“I believe it’s the best thing for [Hardaway] to get a fresh start,” Orlando General Manager John Gabriel said.
Hardaway also gets a seven-year, $86-million contract, the largest allowed under the league’s collective bargaining agreement, and will team with Jason Kidd in a star-studded backcourt.
The acquisition of Hardaway was a major coup for the Suns, who had no room under the salary cap to go after free agents, let alone one with his stature.
Hardaway opted out of the final three years of his contract and became a free agent this summer, but only Chicago, the Clippers and Toronto had anywhere near the money available to land him. He made it clear to Magic officials over the past few days that he did not want to return as Orlando--especially new Coach Doc Rivers--tried in vain to get him to change his mind.
Hardaway was the last member of the Magic’s 1994-95 team that went to the NBA finals.
Elsewhere around the NBA:
* The Bucks thought they had reached an agreement to keep Curry, the league’s most accurate three-point shooter last season. “He gave his word two times, than changed his mind,” Milwaukee General Manager Bob Weinhauer said. “I don’t want to talk about him.”
* Cheaney turned down a sign-and-trade deal that would have sent him from Washington to Miami. He opted instead to sign with Boston, where he figures to be the replacement for the traded Ron Mercer.
* Seattle apparently dropped out of the bidding for free agent Mitch Richmond and started scrambling to make other moves, even trying to acquire the much-maligned Donyell Marshall from Golden State for Hersey Hawkins. That offer was turned down, and the SuperSonics also got no commitment from free-agent forward Gary Trent after making another offer.
* Miami emerged as the leading candidate to acquire Richmond but needed to find a third team to broker a sign-and-trade deal with the Wizards. The Heat was believed to be willing to part with P.J. Brown in a Richmond deal.
* Guard Terry Porter left the Heat and signed with the San Antonio Spurs, saying he didn’t want to commit to Miami because of all the uncertainty over the roster.