Former Georgetown University basketball star David Wingate, whose career with the San Antonio Spurs was marred by rape charges in different states, was waived yesterday by the team.
It was a basketball decision and not personal, said Bob Bass, Spurs vice president of basketball operations.
"We just have to improve our outside shooting," Bass said. "We lost in the playoffs [three games to one to the Golden State Warriors], and we just have to get that outside shot."
In a statement released by his agent, James W. Myart Jr., Wingate said: "I want to express my appreciation to [Spurs owner] Red McCombs, the Spurs and the fans for their past support. I wish the Spurs success. I must say that I had fallen in love with San Antonio.
"I am going to miss the river city. As for myself, I am taking the summer to hone my defensive skills and to work on my offensive game. I have a soul-searched commitment to be the best in my style of play."
Wingate was traded with Maurice Cheeks and Chris Welp to the Spurs in August 1989 by the Philadelphia 76ers for Johnny Dawkins and Jay Vincent. Neither Cheeks nor Welp remain with the Spurs.
Wingate missed most of the 1990-91 season after facing rape charges and a civil lawsuit stemming from two incidents in Maryland and San Antonio last summer. He rejoined the team in March after the San Antonio criminal charge was dropped and the civil suit was settled out of court. The Maryland charge was placed on a docket that dismisses the case if Wingate faces no more legal trouble within a year.
"We brought him back," Bass said. "We had that behind us. If that wasn't behind us, we wouldn't have brought him back. It was purely basketball skills judgment."
Defense was the best part of Wingate's game. He appeared in 25 games last season, shooting 38.4 percent from the field and averaging 5.4 points. His combined two-year averages in 103 games with the Spurs were 8.3 points, 43.4 percent from the field and 75.8 percent from the free-throw line.
The Spurs were hoping Wingate's statistics would improve, but after he returned last season, Wingate never regained his tenacity and was not regarded as much of an outside scoring threat by opponents, Bass said.
"The longer you keep a certain group of guys together, the more your opponent figures out what you can and cannot do," Bass said. "When he was in games, our opponents backed off and let him shoot."