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OT: Knicks Trying To Acquire Mourning


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the New York Knicks are making the same desperate moves now the Yankees were making in the 1980's trying to jump start their team and get back into contention, namely trading for or signing older players who are past their primes.

Mourning was a great player 4 or 5 years ago. He is now a decent player who comes with a franchise salary.

With his recent injury history one has to question how long Alonzo is going to continue to play and the Knicks were more than one solid player away from contending even in the diluted Eastern Conference:


New York Daily News:

It has come to this for the Knicks: They are looking to Pat Riley for help.

Scott Layden's search for a franchise center has actually included a call to Riley for Miami Heat center Alonzo Mourning, according to an Eastern Conference official.

On the day the Knicks signed Michael Doleac, a capable backup, and the day after the Nets obtained Dikembe Mutombo in a three-player trade with Philadelphia, word around the NBA yesterday was that Layden is trying to upgrade his team's own front line by acquiring an old nemesis.

A deal for Mourning would likely have to involve a third team and multiple players because Mourning, who missed 79games two years ago due to a career-threatening kidney ailment, is scheduled to earn approximately $20 million this season.

For the Knicks to make a serious bid for Mourning, their offer would probably include Latrell Sprewell with either Kurt Thomas or Clarence Weatherspoon, who became expendable with yesterday's addition of Doleac.

The Heat has fielded numerous calls regarding Mourning from teams desperate to add an All-Star caliber center. Riley, however, is reluctant to deal Mourning because of Mourning's pending free agency.

Miami will take only young players or players without long-term contracts because Riley is hoping to make a run at free agent-to-be Tim Duncan after the 2002-03 season.

Mourning, 32, wants to finish his career with the Heat, but Miami recently rejected his bid for a contract extension and appears ready to allow Mourning to walk after this season.

If the Knicks are involved with Mourning, David Falk can't be far behind. The agent for Patrick Ewing and Michael Jordan has a history of brokering blockbuster deals, including Ewing's departure from New York two years ago. In that transaction, Falk was instrumental in bringing Glen Rice to the Knicks, a deal Layden is still licking his wounds from.

The rumor back then was Falk would help bring Mutombo to New York if the Knicks signed Rice. Layden held up his end of the deal, but Mutombo eventually landed in Philadelphia.

The Knicks made another run at Mutombo before he was dealt to the Nets Tuesday for Keith Van Horn and Todd MacCulloch. According to a league source, Layden turned down a deal that would have cost him Thomas, Travis Knight and Charlie Ward.

"We don't discuss discussions with other teams," Layden said yesterday during a conference call.

He added that the deal "was an outstanding trade" for the Nets. Why Layden, the Knicks president, would pass on Mutombo is anyone's guess. Mutombo is 36 and his skills have diminished the last two seasons.

Mourning, however, is an even greater health risk because of his kidney condition which he treats daily with medication. Coincidentally, Mourning's world renowned kidney specialist is located in Manhattan.

Last year, Mourning played in 75 games and averaged 15.7points and 8.4 rebounds.

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'Zo's a huge risk due to health concerns, but his age doesn't scare me. I think Miami desparately needs Christian Laettner, Jahidi White and Chris Whitney.

Mourning's contract might be scarey, but that'd stiffen that interior defense a whole lot and buy some time for the young big guys to develop.

If the Knicks get him, it won't help them that much, although a healthy McDyess and Mourning wouldn't be terrible, either. Doleac is a stiff.

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