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Philadelphia gets Coleman in three-team trade

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Pat Croce once vowed that Derrick Coleman would never return to the Philadelphia 76ers as long as he was team president.

Croce resigned in July, and Coleman came back Thursday.

Coleman, a cantankerous forward who has worn out his welcome everywhere he's played except Philadelphia, returned to the Sixers in a three-team, eight-player trade involving the Charlotte Hornets and Golden State Warriors.

In exchange for Coleman, the Hornets got forwards George Lynch, Robert Traylor and Jerome Moiso from Philadelphia and forward Chris Porter from Golden State.

The Warriors got forward Cedric Henderson and a conditional first-round draft pick in 2005 from the Sixers, as well as cash from Charlotte. Philadelphia also received guard Vonteego Cummings and forward Corie Blount from Golden State.

``If Pat was sitting here in the same position as before, I would've been telling him how much we needed (Coleman), and there's no doubt in my mind he would champion anything that would help this club,'' coach Larry Brown said. ``I would never do anything to show Pat up. We just felt this was the best thing for our team.''

Brown and general manager Billy King denied that Croce vetoed a deal for Coleman earlier in the summer.

``Numerous times, I talked to Pat about Derrick, and he never turned down any deal because we never had a deal,'' Brown said.

Croce said one of the reasons he didn't like Coleman was that he once failed to attend a team function at Children's Hospital.

Brown and King like what Coleman does on the court.

``We felt we needed a starting power forward who can handle the ball on the perimeter, shoot from the perimeter, rebound and can play some minutes at center,'' King said.

Coleman spent three seasons in Philadelphia before signing a five-year, $40 million deal with the Hornets in 1998. He has two years left on that deal and is still owed $19.1 million.

The Hornets have been trying to unload Coleman and his attitude, but found no takers, based on his horrendous season last year and big contract.

He showed up at training camp last year 30 pounds overweight, never worked his way into shape because of his irregular heartbeat and spent much of the season on the injured list.

In 34 games, Coleman averaged 8.1 points, shot 38 percent from the field and averaged 5.4 rebounds, all lows for his 12-year career.

The Hornets were 12-22 with Coleman, 34-14 without him.

The Sixers, defending Eastern Conference champions, have had injury problems this preseason.

NBA MVP Allen Iverson and Aaron McKie, the league's Sixth Man of the Year, both had surgery last month and haven't returned. Eric Snow played one preseason game, broke his thumb and will miss up to three months. Matt Geiger's situation remains uncertain because of lingering leg problems.

Coleman fills the vacancy at power forward that was created when Tyrone Hill was traded to Cleveland in the offseason.

The No. 1 overall pick in the 1990 draft, Coleman averaged 17.9 points and 9.8 rebounds for his career, but has missed 351 games with injuries.

Philadelphia bought out the final year of Coleman's contract in June 1998 for $5,570,400, rather than pay him $13 million.

For the Warriors, the trade thins a crowded roster and practically assures that all three of their rookies _ Jason Richardson, Troy Murphy and Gilbert Arenas _ will play important roles this season.
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