Trade Could Send Barkley To Rockets And Mutombo To Suns Under The Plan, The Nuggets Would Get Robert Horry And Sam Cassell. First, They Need To Sign Mutombo.

Posted: June 29, 1996

PHOENIX — Charles Barkley might be headed for Houston by way of Denver.

The outspoken all-star forward appears to have worn out his welcome after four seasons with the Phoenix Suns, but has said he'll accept a trade only to an NBA championship contender. Suns sources have confirmed the possibility of a three-way deal that would send Barkley, 33, to Houston; Robert Horry and Sam Cassel from Houston to Denver; and Dikembe Mutombo from Denver to Phoenix.

The deal is contingent on the Nuggets first re-signing Mutombo, who is eligible for free agency and is said to be seeking more than $9 million per year. He blocked more shots this season than the entire Phoenix team.

All NBA transactions are on hold until July 9, when the players are expected to ratify a new collective-bargaining agreement.

Buck stopped. The Portland Trail Blazers will decline to exercise a $3.4 million contract option on 36-year-old forward Buck Williams, so the 15-year veteran will become a free agent.

``The driving factor for us was the salary cap,'' Blazers president Bob Whitsitt said.

Williams, one of eight NBA players with more than 16,000 points and 12,000 rebounds, is a former president of the NBA Players Association.

Wild Rider. Minnesota's attempt to trade troubled guard Isaiah Rider to Portland may have been sabotaged by Rider's second arrest in two weeks. The California Highway Patrol arrested Rider in his hometown of Oakland on Thursday night and charged him with possession of marijuana and possession of stolen property, which could be a felony if the four cellular telephones found in his 1996 Mercedes turn out to be worth more than $400.

Rider has been arrested four times in his three seasons with the Timberwolves.

Milwaukee dismissals. Chris Ford, given the authority to pick his own staff when hired as coach of the Bucks, will not retain assistants Frank Hamblen, Jim Eyen and Butch Carter, aides to former coach Mike Dunleavy. Hamblen, in Milwaukee eight years, was 23-42 as interim head coach in 1991-92.

Notes. The Atlanta Hawks have declined to exercise a $1.8 million option on guard Craig Ehlo, so the 35-year-old veteran is a free agent . . . Former Temple star Mark Macon was arrested outside Flint, Mich., and charged with carrying a concealed weapon in his car, a loaded handgun. His attorney said that it was a misunderstanding, that Macon had filed papers for a permit to carry the gun. . . . Dontae' Jones, one of the New York Knicks' three first-round draft picks, underwent surgery to remove and replace a broken screw in his left foot. Jones' availability for the start of training camp is uncertain.

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