Will Suns get 76ers' Lang back?

April 09, 1993|By Knight-Ridder News Service

LANDOVER -- If most 76ers fans hate the three-for-one trade in which Charles Barkley went to the Phoenix Suns, imagine how they'll react if it winds up being a two-for-two.

Starting center Andrew Lang, who was acquired along with guard Jeff Hornacek and forward Tim Perry in the June 17, 1992, blockbuster deal, is an unrestricted free agent around whom rumors continue to swirl. The word around the NBA is that Lang, who has not sold his house in Phoenix, will return to the Suns before next season.

"No, I haven't heard that rumor," said Lang, who declined to comment on whether it had any basis in fact.

But Herb Rudoy, Lang's Chicago-based agent, noted that his client had declined to discuss a contract extension with the Sixers last summer because he "wanted to see what was out there" as an unrestricted free agent. Rudoy did not rule out a possible return to the Suns by his client.

Lang, 26, is a five-year veteran from Arkansas who has been up and down in his first and possibly only season as a Sixer. Although he generally has started when healthy, he has had to play through a series of minor injuries, and, perhaps not coincidentally, his statistical performance more closely suggests the second coming of Darrall Imhoff than the second coming of Wilt Chamberlain.

The 6-11, 250-pound Lang, who averaged only 4.8 points in his first four NBA seasons with Phoenix, brought averages of 5.2 points (on 42.7 percent shooting) and 5.8 rebounds into Wednesday night's game. But he has blocked 130 shots and his average of 2.06 blocks per game ranks ninth among all NBA players.

The prevailing opinion is that three of the four centers the Sixers have used this season Manute Bol, Charles Shackleford and Eddie LeeWilkins are the others will not be asked back in order to free up salary slots that can be used in the anticipated reconstruction of the roster.

Lang, who is earning $1.04 million this season, figured to hold onto his roster spot because the Sixers might be hard-pressed to come up with someone better. Plus, from a public relations standpoint, his departure would make the Barkley trade seem even more lopsided than it is now.

Rudoy said the fact that Lang has not sold his house in Phoenix is not indicative of anything other than "he loves the area and intends to make it his home. Which isn't to say he might not wind up back with the Suns. Anything's possible."

Of more immediate concern, Rudoy said, is the unsettled state of the Sixers. Head coach Fred Carter, who replaced Doug Moe March 7, clearly regards Lang as his No. 1 center. But Carter is not assured of retaining his job and a new coach might have

different ideas.

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