Fri, Jul 18, 2003 - Page 24 News List

NBA teams eye free agent Brad Miller of the Pacers

AP , BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS

Only one better-than-decent center remains on the free agent market, and plenty of teams were wondering Wednesday whether there was a way to acquire Brad Miller of the Indiana Pacers.

"Things are changing by the moment," said agent Mark Bartelstein, Miller's representative.

Miller, an Eastern Conference All-Star last season, made US$5.3 million in 2002-2003 and is in position to get a healthy raise. Indiana would likely be willing to give him a starting salary around US$7 million, but other height-deprived teams might be willing to go higher.

The Utah Jazz, Denver Nuggets, San Antonio Spurs and Washington Wizards are the only teams with enough remaining salary cap space to make a higher offer to Miller. San Antonio, however, has already signed Slovenian center Rasho Nesterovic, and Washington has been pursuing Golden State free agent guard Gilbert Arenas.

There are at least two other teams -- Memphis and New York -- that have been trying in vain to acquire one of the available free agent centers.

With Michael Olowokandi and Nesterovic already signed, Miller is the best remaining choice from a free agent market that includes Philadelphia's Derrick Coleman, Seattle's Elden Campbell and Orlando's Andrew Declercq.

"Lots of people are trying to pursue him. That's the best I can say," Bartelstein said of Miller, who has played for Charlotte, Chicago and Indiana during his five NBA seasons.

Pacers president Larry Bird said the team wants to retain both Brad Miller and Reggie Miller.

"It is going to be tough. Our main concern was to get Jermaine [O'Neal] signed. Obviously, both Millers we'd like to get done. It's just going to take time to sit down and look at the numbers and see what we can do.

"There's always options, but we need to get him back here," Bird said.

The best remaining free agent power forward came off the market when the Miami Heat signed Elton Brand of the Clippers to a six-year offer sheet believed to be worth US$84.2 million.

Los Angeles now has 15 days to decide whether to match the offer to Brand, as well as the offer sheets signed by Andre Miller with Denver and Corey Maggette with Utah.

"This organization has always been committed to winning," Heat coach Pat Riley said in a statement. "This offer sheet for Elton Brand is a continuance of that commitment to try to win and put the best possible players on the floor for our fans to enjoy."

Brand has averaged 19.2 points and 10.7 rebounds in his four NBA seasons.

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