Thomas to stay, report says

January 04, 1994|By Knight-Ridder News Service

CHICAGO -- He stays.

After meeting with owner Bill Davidson last night, Detroit Pistons captain Isiah Thomas has decided against joining the New York Knicks for a run at another NBA championship. Thomas on Sunday was said to be on his way to the Knicks for forward Tony Campbell, the rights to former Michigan forward Tim McCormick and a 1994 first-round draft pick.

"He isn't going anywhere," a Pistons source said last night. "He got what he wanted."

That was news to director of player personnel Billy McKinney, who said, "I haven't heard a thing, but I didn't ever think he was going anywhere."

Details of the meeting weren't available, but Thomas was believed to be seeking a new contract. He is in the last year of a $2.4 million pact, and Thomas was said to be seeking a Magic Johnson-type deal that would pay him anywhere from $7 million to $12 million. He also wanted to talk to Davidson about his career after basketball, which might include a front-office position or part-ownership.

It might not have been what everybody in the organization wanted, however. The trade might have hastened the Pistons' rebuilding. Entering yesterday, the Pistons were tied with the Washington Bullets and Milwaukee Bucks (8-20) for the worst record in the Eastern Conference. And only the 2-25 Dallas Mavericks had a worse overall record, which means the Pistons are very much in the running for the No. 1 pick in the draft.

Campbell wouldn't have improved the Pistons. And the contracts of Campbell and McCormick expire after this season. That would have given the Pistons two sizable salary slots ($1.8 million, $895,000) to go along with the $1.2 million slot created by Bill Laimbeer's retirement. The Pistons could also create more slots by renouncing the rights to free agents Olden Polynice ($850,000), Cadillac Anderson ($650,000), Marcus Liberty ($650,000) and David Wood ($475,000).

A team can do a lot of rebuilding with $6.5 million.

But they won't have that much money to work with now.

Thomas hasn't played since Dec. 21, is said to be suffering from a strained arch and dislocated toe, but a member of the Pistons' medical staff said he has been working out every day and "is in the best shape since training camp, and he was in great shape back then."

The Knicks also are considering trading Greg Anthony and two first-round picks for the Dallas Mavericks' Derek Harper.

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