The Suns appeared to be a mere formality away last night from completing a sign-and-trade deal with the Magic that would bring Penny Hardaway to Phoenix.
Suns President Jerry Colangelo gave every indication that the Magic was prepared to go through with the deal, which would send Hardaway to Phoenix for Pat Garrity, Danny Manning and two draft picks. The trade could be completed today, although there apparently was still room for the Magic to back out. However, the Suns were the only team with an offer on the table.
"They told us yesterday that we had a deal in that we've agreed to what we're going to give them in terms of compensation," Colangelo said. "We took care of our end of the business."
There have been indications that Orlando's management was trying mightily to do better, either by persuading Hardaway to stay and play for new Magic coach Doc Rivers or by finding another interested trading partner.
To make the trade happen, Hardaway would sign a seven-year, $92 million contract with Orlando, the largest allowed for a player with his experience under the NBA's collective bargaining agreement, then would be traded to Phoenix.
If Hardaway joins the Suns, he would team with Jason Kidd as one of the most formidable back courts in the NBA. Hardaway, 28, has averaged 19 points per game in six NBA seasons, making the all-star game four times. Nagging injuries have plagued him the last two seasons.
Meanwhile, the Cavaliers, unwilling to meet Derek Anderson's asking price for a contract extension, traded him and Johnny Newman to the Clippers for Lamond Murray.
Anderson, 25, was entering the final year of his three-year rookie contract. The 6-foot-6 guard was seeking a seven-year, $60 million extension from the Cavs. But while he averaged 11.3 points for the Cavs in the last two seasons, Anderson also missed 28 games with knee injuries. And by drafting shooting guard Trajan Langdon from Duke in June, Cleveland's back court was getting crowded.
The attraction for the Clippers was Anderson, an explosive leaper and finisher who played two years for Cleveland after being drafted out of Kentucky.
Murray, 26, a free agent who also negotiated with San Antonio, had played his entire five-year career with the Clippers. Used primarily at small forward, he averaged 12.2 points last year after losing his starting job 13 games into the season.
One day after being acquired from the Celtics, along with Popeye Jones and Dwayne Schintzius, Ron Mercer was a no-show for a news conference with his new employers, the Nuggets. Mercer, who will be in the final year of his contract, reportedly said Tuesday that he would not come to Denver until a contract extension was offered.
The Kings re-signed forward Lawrence Funderburke and picked up point guard Darrick Martin, a free agent from the Clippers.