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Dunleavy Isn't Worried About Contract

Clippers Coach Mike Dunleavy returned from Russia without a contract extension, but he expressed optimism Monday about his situation and the team's future.

The Clippers, among four teams that began the preseason in Europe to promote the NBA, open training camp today at Santa Barbara City College, and Dunleavy said he's not worried about a new contract deal.

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Sonics players showing they want action

In Bob Hill's mind, training camp ended Sunday morning and the exhibition season begins Wednesday night in Portland.

So for two days, his Sonics are in a nebulous stage of practice and the grind is beginning to take its toll.

Each day, the list of walking wounded grows — backup swingman Damien Wilkins sprained his right index finger Monday — and the scrimmages are becoming more physical.

"I think they're ready for a game," Hill said. "You can kind of just tell."

Perhaps Chris Wilcox provided a good clue during the scrimmage Monday when he swatted the basketball out of frustration after drawing a foul. The referees were going to overlook the outburst, but Hill made them assess a technical foul.

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In camp to help, ex-Net faces end of the line

All the emphasis the Nets are putting on the fast break during this training camp has Kerry Kittles wishing he is still able to play.

Instead of swooping in for a Jason Kidd-fed slam or spotting up for a transition jumper, Kittles is setting picks during drills and delivering passes to players he once called teammates.

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Kerry Still Clinging To Dream

The door is virtually slammed shut and double-bolted, but Kerry Kittles never wants to say never about a possible comeback.

"Realistically, I don't think it will ever happen, but you never know," said Kittles, who is helping on a volunteer basis around Nets camp as a way to quench his thirst to play. "That fire is still burning. I wouldn't say it's completely out, but I'll say there's pretty much no chance."

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Nets: Williams keeps focus on goal

Play had stopped, which meant it was time for a teaching interlude, and everybody stood at attention with his head turned toward the head coach near the end of practice yesterday. Except one player, who was over at the foul line, palms resting on his knees, his forehead pointed at the floor.

"Jay, you listening?" Lawrence Frank asked, though he didn't wait for a response as he segued right into the lecture.

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Stoudemire likely for 76ers

There is a new No. 1 under Amaré Stoudemire's warmup jacket and today is probably the day it finally will be unveiled.

After Suns coach Mike D'Antoni benched Stoudemire in Phoenix's preseason debut after the power forward sat out two of four practices, Stoudemire has reacted with resounding aplomb on the court. It likely will allow him to play as Phoenix takes on Philadelphia at noon today here on the first day of the NBA Europe Live, a two-day, four-team tourney with Maccabi Tel Aviv and CSKA Moscow.

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Slim gym, not Jim, for Sweetney

No one has told center Michael Sweetney to ''shape up or ship out!'' But Sweetney is well aware that the team is taking something of a weight-and-see approach with him. Coach Scott Skiles expects his players to be in condition from the start of training camp.

Sweetney's shape was an issue last season, his first with the Bulls after arriving as part of the trade that sent Eddy Curry to the New York Knicks.

Sweetney, who looks larger than the 270 pounds assigned him on the training-camp roster, missed one practice last week after becoming dehydrated to the point of needing an intravenous injection of fluids.

''I'm a big guy and when I sweat, I lose a lot of fluids,'' Sweetney said. ''I've been drinking a lot of low-calorie drinks before and during practice.''

The fact that Sweetney is entering the final guaranteed year of his contract, which will pay him $2,696,956 this season, is added weight on his shoulders.

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Forward thinking: Deng or Nocioni?

With his team ahead of schedule, upbeat Bulls head coach Scott Skiles told the players to take Sunday off in a rare fit of contentment.

Yet while Skiles is a happy man these days, he's well aware there will be some difficult decisions to make before long.

"I might have to earn my money this season," Skiles kidded. "I got a raise this year, too, so I better earn it."

Perhaps the most urgent question is at small forward, where either Luol Deng or Andres Nocioni figures to start.

Skiles said he had decided on the first unit for Wednesday night's preseason opener against the Washington Wizards at the United Center, but he declined to reveal it.

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Patterson, Pritchard change their titles

The names are the same, but the titles have changed in the Trail Blazers' front office.

After a summer spent making drastic roster changes in an effort to change the "culture" of the team, the tag-team front office of Steve Patterson and Kevin Pritchard were rewarded Monday when Patterson was named general manager and Pritchard assistant general manager.

The two combined to make seven trades in a two-month span this summer, while also engineering an active draft day, which netted four picks, including highly touted prospects Brandon Roy from Washington, LaMarcus Aldridge from Texas and Sergio Rodriguez from Spain. When the Blazers opened training camp last week, eight of the 15 players were newcomers.

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Jackson Shows Up at Practice

Coach Phil Jackson stopped by Lakers practice Monday morning, accepted handshakes from his players, and launched right into a lecture on an element of the triangle offense — with discussions of feel-good reunions and hip-replacement surgery left for another time.

Jackson was more than a passive participant in returning to a part-time role less than a week after last Tuesday's procedure. He is still up to three weeks from returning full time and will not join the team tonight in Fresno for its first exhibition against Utah, but he sat in on the coaches' meeting and then watched more than two hours of Monday's practice.

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Cowboys fan Iverson can't help rooting for Birds

Everyone in Joe Champs American Sports Bar knew where Allen Iverson was sitting - second floor, first row, in front of the big-screen television on the left - to watch the Eagles-Dallas game.

That's because every time the Cowboys did something good, Iverson (gasp!) stood up, turned around to face his teammates, coaches and 76ers staff, and cheered.

But Iverson comes by his Dallas loyalty naturally. It has nothing to do with the fact that the Cowboys have that Terrell Owens fellow, and everything to do with the fact that he's been a Dallas fan since he was 5 years old.

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Wallace cries foul over rule

You had to know the Pistons were going to take it personally.

The NBA, in an attempt to cut down on the incessant complaining by players to officials, has instituted what amounts to a zero-tolerance rule this season.

Where in the past the referees might look the other way when Rasheed Wallace threw his arms in the air or made some other wild gesture after a questionable call, or when Tayshaun Prince put his hands on his hips and shook his head in disgust after a call, this season, such actions could bring a quick technical.

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Extra year of probation for Jackson

Stephen Jackson has been given an extra year of probation because he did not complete the terms of his sentence for his part in the brawl at the Palace of Auburn Hills in 2004, an Oakland County (Mich.) assistant prosecutor said Monday.

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Miller takes players, coach to task over scandal

Former Indiana Pacers guard Reggie Miller called Friday's incident involving four players "ridiculous" and said it puts a "black cloud" over the Pacers organization, during an interview Monday on "The Dan Patrick Show" on ESPN Radio.

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Yao can't shake toe woe

On the day Rockets center Yao Ming was expected back on the court, he was instead in another doctor's office, this time to have his troublesome left big toenail removed.

Rather than coming back Monday or playing in tonight's preseason opener against the Memphis Grizzlies, Yao was declared out for another week to 10 days in the latest round of his ongoing battles with his toenails. He has had a nail removed three times since July 2004. Last season, he developed an infection that required surgery, costing him 21 games.

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Amare's Pain Game

AMARE's Coming! Amare's Coming!

Anyone not a Phoenix fan (exempting Marlow's crew, of course) has to be at least a little unnerved by the menacing news on the "Wire" concerning Amare Stoudemire's surgically scarred knees. After throbbing and swelling forced the Suns' Rehab Center into a brief work stoppage during his team's two-week Italian holiday, he has enjoyed three straight friction-free practices.

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