Stardom aside, 76ers' Barkley could be on the trading block

January 07, 1992|By Alan Goldstein

Superstars rarely are traded in the NBA because of their value on the court and at the box office, and because of their huge contracts that challenge the salary cap.

But there are always exceptions. Hall of Famers Wilt Chamberlain, Elvin Hayes, Dave DeBusschere and Earl Monroe were traded, Chamberlain and Hayes twice. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Monroe forced trades by the Milwaukee Bucks and Baltimore Bullets, respectively, by threatening to sit out the season.

Charles Barkley as yet has made no such threats to the Philadelphia 76ers. And the 76ers say they haven't put their All-NBA forward up for trade.

"What happens is that Charles has received a lot of publicity from his book and off-the-court incidents he got involved in," said 76ers general manager Gene Shue. "Whenever stuff like that happens, other teams make inquiries about where things stand, and then the rumors begin to fly."

But three NBA general managers told The Philadelphia Inquirer last week that the 76ers are interested in moving Barkley, who recently drew criticism from his teammates for disrupting the offense with his one-on-one moves.

"I'll make them happy," said Barkley. "I'll just pass all the time."

Few players can match Barkley's scoring and rebounding statistics, but few also match his outrageous behavior.

As one general manager said, "All those off-the-court incidents make teams wonder if he's worth it.

"And then you have to be concerned with his injuries he's had. He's had ligament damage to his knee, a shoulder operation and a stress fracture in his ankle. And he continues to say he'll play only three more years. That makes teams leery of mortgaging their franchise to get him."

* Kings or jesters? Spain-bound Ralph Sampson recalls how the Kings once offered him a parcel of land in exchange for his contract. Washington Bullets center Pervis Ellison, another former King, remembers another slight.

"My rookie year in Sacramento, I had a flat tire about three miles from the ARCO Arena," Ellison said. "Three of the Kings' coaches passed me by on the highway without stopping. I kind of got the idea I wasn't in their plans."

* Bad Person: Indiana forward Chuck Person made it a point early the season of telling the media he would be talking less trash and sticking to business. "It's nicer to whisper your intentions," he said. Pacers teammates applauded his new attitude.

"Chuck is very different," said shooting guard Reggie Miller. "He's bringing more enthusiasm, passing the ball more and keeping his head in games even when he's not making shots."

But don't hold your breath. Person reverted to form a week ago when he flagrantly elbowed Bulls guard John Paxson, drawing a $7,500 fine.

"If I had to do it over again, I would," said Person. "I wanted to shake him up a bit. I don't apologize for anything." Is it a mere coincidence that Barkley and Person are Auburn alums?

* Down under: Luc Longley, the 7-foot-2 center from Australia by way of New Mexico and the seventh selection in the 1991 NBA draft, is averaging 3.0 points and 6.0 rebounds since reporting late to the Timberwolves. Said Longley: "It's been a shock to my system. I didn't expect to struggle the way I have, but I haven't written my rookie season off like some people have."

* Biting the bullet: Chicago superstar Michael Jordan says he would prefer sharing the All-Star backcourt for the Eastern Conference with Miller rather than with Bullets point guard Michael Adams, who is running a strong second in the fan balloting. But Jordan likes the possibility of playing alongside Detroit's Isiah Thomas or Joe Dumars even less.

"I don't think they're having good years," Jordan said, "and, besides, people don't like Detroit."

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