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Hughes headed back to Philly in pre-draft deal?
By Vittorio Tafur

The great Larry Hughes point-guard experiment failed miserably last year, with Hughes closing out the season on the Warriors bench and his trade value down the toilet.
Well, two days before the NBA Draft, Hughes may have a little trade value left after all. He may even help Golden State land a point guard, league sources said.

Hughes, 23, started his career with the Philadelphia 76ers and the 76ers are starved enough for scoring that they want him back. Hughes is a career 40.3-percent shooter who averaged 12.3 points per game last season, but even his worst critics will admit that he is athletic, can get to the rim on drives and still has some upside.

Philadelphia might be offering its first-round pick (No.16) and forward Derrick Coleman for Hughes and another player that would make the deal work financially. The 76ers would make the 16th pick for Golden State and select either Gonzaga point guard Dan Dickau or Illinois point guard Frank Williams and send him to the Warriors.

Golden State, as part of the deal, would also relinquish its rights to Philadelphia's first-round pick in 2005. The Warriors acquired that, along with forward Cedric Henderson, in last October's three-team trade of Vonteego Cummings and Corie Blount to the 76ers and Chris Porter to Charlotte.

Coleman, entering the last year of his contract, made $8.7million last season. Hughes is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, and Golden State would have to tender him a $2.9million qualifying offer (for the 2002-2003 season) to trade him. The Warriors could make up the difference in salaries in the trade by including centers Erick Dampier or Adonal Foyle, forwards Chris Mills or Danny Fortson or guard Bob Sura. They all make more than $4.5million a season.

Since Hughes is entering his fifth season in the NBA, the Warriors have until June 30 to tender him a qualifying offer or he becomes an unrestricted free agent. They have no interest in doing that unless they can trade him.

Coleman just turned 35 but the Warriors would be able to erase his name and salary from the books after next season. The power forward averaged 15.1 points per game last season, and would join a forward rotation of Antawn Jamison, Troy Murphy and the Warriors' first-round pick on Wednesday. Golden State likely will draft either Duke's Mike Dunleavy, Connecticut's Caron Butler or Kansas' Drew Gooden third, but the team also is enamored of 7-foot, 19-year-old Nikoloz Tskitishvili, a gifted forward project out of the former Soviet republic of Georgia...

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