Muresan suits up again with Nets

He signs for last 2 games, looking for longer deal later

May 04, 1999|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON -- It was the arena that Gheorghe Muresan longed to play in. But when the moment finally came last night, it was in a uniform that he never quite envisioned wearing.

When Muresan suited up for his first game at the MCI Center it was against his former teammates, the Washington Wizards. That's because earlier yesterday the New Jersey Nets signed the free-agent center to a contract for the remaining two games of the season.

"I'm with a team and I'm glad to be back," said Muresan, who, because of injuries, had not suited up for a game since helping the then Washington Bullets to the playoffs two years ago. "It gives me more confidence for the future."

It was last summer that the 7-foot-7 Muresan had lower back surgery to alleviate pressure on nerves that were caused by oversized vertebrae. Although he has been undergoing extensive rehabilitation at the Sinai WellBridge Health and Fitness Center in Pikesville, a Wizards doctor said as recently as two weeks ago that "he will never be able to get his strength back so that he can function at the level the organization would like him to."

Muresan said before the game last night that he is only at about 70 percent of his playing ability, and the Nets were not planning to play him in either of their final two games. He has yet to pass an extensive physical with the Nets which is not uncommon, since some players who sign 10-day contracts are often rushed onto rosters without close examinations.

The signing is a great low-risk move by the Nets, who will have an advantage in signing Muresan for next season.

"My interest is sincere," said Nets general manager John Nash, who was in the same role with Washington when it drafted Muresan. "He looks like he's very close to be physically able to play. I know the guy; I know what he can do."

Pub Date: 5/04/99

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