Wilkins Still Bitter Over Hawks' Handling Of Trade To Clippers

ATLANTA - Dominique Wilkins said he's still sour over the Feb. 24 trade that sent him to the Los Angeles Clippers from the Atlanta Hawks, the only team he had ever played with in the NBA.

But Wilkins said he's been pleased with the welcome in Los Angeles, where the reaction by fans and teammates has been positive. Entering last night's game in Charlotte, the Clippers had gone 7-6 in the 13 games he had played, and his performance has been strong.

"The reception has been unbelievable. They've given me more respect here than I ever got in Atlanta," Wilkins told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution before the Clippers' 97-94 victory over the Hawks Friday in Wilkins' return to the Omni.

Still, Wilkins remains bewildered by the deal that sent the 34-year-old star to Los Angeles for Danny Manning. Manning scored just six points Friday, getting into foul trouble and hitting just three of 10 shots from the field.

"The disappointment still hasn't left me. The Hawks have a chance to win a title and I wanted to be a part of that," said Wilkins.

"I still don't understand it. It's the most senseless trade I can imagine. Nothing against Danny, but I'm still a little sour," he said.

Talk of the trade comes up at every stop the Clippers make. When it does, Wilkins' mood is likely to turn dark and hasten his departure from the locker room.

Manning, 27, has hit three game-winning shots, contributed several crucial defensive plays and blended in with the offense. Entering last night's game against Miami, the Hawks were 13-4 since he joined the team, with a playoff berth assured.

Hawk president Stan Kasten and general manager Pete Babcock have left messages for Wilkins, but he has not returned their calls, the newspaper said.

"I still love 'Nique and I'm sad that he feels this way, and that's all I'm going to say," Kasten said.

"I understand how 'Nique feels," Babcock said. "We have disrupted his life. It's always difficult to be traded or fired."

Kasten, Babcock and Hawks Coach Lenny Wilkens are more than willing to debate the merits of the trade, with the age difference a major factor.

But Wilkins will hear none of that.

"There are guys in this league who are 24 and can't do the things I do. Once you hit 30, it seems like people expect you to sit in a rocking chair," he said.

Mavs face dubious distinction

The Dallas Mavericks would have to win 11 of their last 15 games, a virtually impossible task for the worst team in the NBA, to avoid having the worst two-year record in league history.

The Mavs, 11-71 last season and 8-59 through 67 games in 1993-94, need 19 victories this season to finish with 30 in two years, one more than the Los Angeles Clippers of 1986-86 and 1987-88, who were 12-70 and 17-65 in those two seasons.

"If you're a competitor, it hits you as a disappointment because you never really want to see yourself in a losing situation," Mavericks guard Jim Jackson said. "Things will get better. You can't always be losers."

The 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers, who had the worst single-season record of 9-73, improved to 25-57 the following year, giving them a two-year total of 34, tied for fifth-worst two-season record. Minnesota won 15 games in 1991-92 and 19 in 1992-93.

The Baltimore Bullets have the second-worst two-year victory total of 32, with 16 wins in both 1952-53 and 1953-54.

The 1988-89 and 1989-90 Miami Heat and the 1991-92 and 1992-93 Mavericks, with 33 victories each, are tied for the third-worst two-season records.

Murphy's record in jeopardy

Calvin Murphy, whose 13-year-old NBA free-throw percentage record withstood Mark Price's assault the last two years, is facing a new challenge this season.

Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf made 95.6 percent of his free throws in Denver's first 65 games, just short of Murphy's 95.8 percent in 1980-81. Murphy missed just nine of 215 attempts in his record year, while Abdul-Rauf had eight misses in his first 182 free throws this season.

Price, who made 94.8 and 94.7 percent of his shots from the line in 1992-93 and 1991-92, is third in the league behind Abdul-Rauf and Indiana's Reggie Miller this season.

----------------------- WESTERN CONFERENCE RACE -----------------------

If the NBA playoffs started today, here would be the top eight teams from the conference. In the playoffs, the No. 1 team would play the No. 8 team, No. 2 would play No. 7, No. 3 would meet No. 6, and No. 4 would meet No. 5. Records are through Friday.

No. Team W L Pct.

1. Seattle 49 17 .742 .

2. Houston 47 18 .723 .

3. S. Antonio 47 20 .701 .

4. Phoenix 44 23 .657 .

5. Utah 44 25 .638 .

6. Portland 41 27 .603 .

7. Golden St. 39 27 .591 .

8. Denver 34 32 .515 .