Booth weighs offers from Bulls, Europe Playing time may tip scale toward overseas

September 20, 1997|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

An agent for Keith Booth said that the former University of Maryland basketball star likely will sign the contract offered by the Chicago Bulls in July in the next week -- unless he receives a significantly better offer overseas.

Curtis Polk of Falk Associates Management Enterprises (FAME) said yesterday that Booth, one of just four first-round picks who remain unsigned, received a guaranteed three-year, $1.718 million deal from the defending NBA champions.

The length and terms of the contract are in accordance with salary slotted to the last pick of the first round in the draft under the league's collective bargaining agreement.

Booth, who was a third-team All-American and all-Atlantic Coast Conference player last season, was the 28th player selected in the opening round of this year's draft.

A former Dunbar star, he has until training camp opens the week after next to make a decision. The Bulls retain his NBA rights until next year's college draft.

"In the next week, we'll make a decision as to what will be better for Keith's future," Polk said.

At issue is whether Polk and David Falk, FAME's Chief Executive Officer, can get a better offer in Europe for the 6-foot-6, 225-pound forward, both in terms of money and playing time.

"If you look at the Bulls' roster at forward, they have Scottie [Pippen] and Dennis [Rodman] and Toni [Kukoc]," Polk said. "They just signed Jud Buechler and they might make another trade.

"Keith would probably be the last man on the bench. "He'd love to be on the Bulls' roster. The reality is that Phil Jackson doesn't like to play rookies." He pointed to Dickey Simpkins, who was the Bulls' No. 1 pick three years ago and hasn't had significant playing time.

Jerry Krause, director of operations for the Bulls, told the Chicago Sun-Times earlier this week: "Obviously, we're very strong at the position. He'd benefit by going overseas and playing."

The situation could change should the Bulls not re-sign Rodman, who is asking for a reported $10 million after being offered substantially less from the Bulls. Also, Pippen's foot injury, suffered last season, might require surgery that could sideline him for the first two months of the season.

Polk would not say which European teams he and Falk are negotiating with on Booth's behalf.

Booth was unavailable for comment.

The Bulls got a glimpse of what Booth can do at a summer league for rookies and free agents in Utah in late July.

Playing in four of the team's five games, Booth averaged nearly 12 points and six rebounds in 24 minutes a game. He shot 11 of 28 from the field and 25 of 33 from the foul line, including 15 of 22 in one game.

"From what I've seen, my first impressions are he's a strong kid," Bulls assistant coach Bill Cartwright said after the team's rookie camp. "He looks to be a two-position [small forward, big guard] player. He looks pretty good to me."

Pub Date: 9/20/97

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.