NBA free agent signings

Wednesday, July 18th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Chris Webber is having second thoughts about returning to the Sacramento Kings, his agent said Tuesday just hours before the NBA's 2 1/2-week moratorium on free agent signings was to expire.

Beginning at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, free agents could sign with the teams of their choosing.

Webber was widely expected to sign a seven-year deal with the Kings, but his newly rehired agent, Fallasha Erwin, said Webber changed his mind Tuesday.

``He's having second thoughts. He's going back and forth and he's not sure what he wants to do,'' Erwin said.

If Webber decides he does not want to return to the Kings, his options would be limited. The Detroit Pistons, who met with Webber two weeks ago and have more than $13 million in salary cap space, can offer him a six-year contract worth $95.7 million.

The Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Clippers can offer Webber similar deals, but neither team is considered a viable option.

The Indiana Pacers are eager to work out a sign-and-trade deal with the Kings, but they could only do so if Webber forced the Kings' hand by telling them he will sign with the Pistons unless he is traded to the team of his choosing.

``I think he's interested in us, but it's a long shot because this is a hard thing to pull off,'' Pacers president Donnie Walsh said. ``It's all up to Chris and the Kings. The bottom line is I don't know, but I can afford to wait.''

Pistons president Joe Dumars and Sacramento general manager Geoff Petrie did not return phone calls.

The New York Knicks and Orlando Magic had been interested in acquiring Webber through a sign-and-trade, but both teams opted to pursue other free agents rather than wait for Webber to make up his mind.

Webber, who has said little publicly since becoming a free agent July 1, was not available for comment, Erwin said.

Webber and Erwin spoke Tuesday night, but Erwin was tightlipped afterward. ``Nothing new to report,'' he said.

The NBA and the players' association were unable to reach agreement on a new salary cap early Wednesday, breaking off talks past midnight after the union made an unacceptable ''11th hour demand,'' the league said.

The salary cap was tentatively raised from $35.5 to $35.956 million, delaying Wednesday's expected flurry of signings and trades that have been agreed to over the past 3 1/2 weeks.

If, as expected, the salary cap is eventually set at $42.5 million next season, Webber will be eligible to receive a starting salary equaling 30 percent of the cap, or about $12.75 million.

With 12.5 percent annual raises, his contract with the Kings would be worth $123 million over seven years _ making it the second-largest contract in NBA history in terms of total dollars, ranking only behind the six-year, $126 million extension signed by Minnesota's Kevin Garnett in 1998.

Most prominent free agents reached agreements on new contracts during the moratorium, and several of those deals are expected to be officially announced Wednesday.

Among them:

_ Dikembe Mutombo and Aaron McKie will re-sign with the Philadelphia 76ers, who will almost certainly be looking for a new backup center. Todd MacCulloch has signed a $35 million, six-year offer sheet from the New Jersey Nets that the 76ers will have 15 days to match, if they so choose.

_ Antonio Davis, who was courted by the Orlando Magic and Chicago Bulls, will re-sign with Toronto for $55 million over five years. The Raptors also will re-sign forward Jerome Williams and are trying to re-sign point guard Alvin Williams.

_ Michael Finley will re-sign with the Dallas Mavericks and is expected to receive a seven-year deal for the maximum he is eligible to receive under the collective bargaining agreement _ about $102 million.

_ Allan Houston will re-sign with the New York Knicks, also receiving a maximum contract worth $102 million. New York also has reached agreement with Cleveland free-agent forward Clarence Weatherspoon on a $27.5 million, five-year contract.

_ Nazr Mohammed, one of the few centers available on the free agent market, will re-sign with the Atlanta Hawks after being courted by several teams.

_ Eddie Robinson will leave the Charlotte Hornets to sign with the Chicago Bulls for $30 million over five years.

_ Barring a last-minute offer from the Lakers, Horace Grant was set to leave the two-time defending champions to return to the Orlando Magic. Patrick Ewing, who spent last season with Seattle, also is expected to sign with the Magic.

_ Tyronn Lue, who did an admirable job of defending Allen Iverson during the NBA Finals, will leave the Lakers to sign a multiyear contract with the Washington Wizards.

_ Anthony Mason, Tim Hardaway and Dan Majerle might not be back with the Miami Heat. Mason's agent, Don Cronson, said his client hoped to be sent elsewhere in a sign-and-trade deal. Hardaway's starting point guard job has been all but given to Anthony Carter, who re-signed for three years and $12 million. Majerle has said he would prefer to play for Phoenix next season.

_ Pistons free agents Corliss Williamson and Joe Smith were caught up in the waiting for Webber. Detroit does not want to make an official offer to either player until learning what Webber intends to do.

_ San Antonio has agreed with center David Robinson on a new contract, but the Spurs have not yet come to terms with shooting guard Derek Anderson. Point guard Avery Johnson is reportedly mulling a three-year, $14 million offer from the Denver Nuggets.

_ Christian Laettner and Popeye Jones have reportedly agreed to re-sign with the Washington Wizards.

_ Hakeem Olajuwon told the Houston Chronicle that he has not yet decided whether to return to the Rockets. Because Olajuwon occupies $24.5 million of cap space, the Rockets cannot sign other free agents until the veteran center is renounced or signed to a smaller contract.

_ John Amaechi of Orlando was mulling offers from the Lakers, Jazz, Bulls and Heat.

_ Heat forward Bruce Bowen was considering offers from the Spurs, Mavericks and Celtics.

_ Sacramento called a news conference to announce the re-signing of Doug Christie to a seven-year, $48 million contract.