Originally created 02/16/99

Rodman remains out of sight



LOS ANGELES -- The Worm remained out of sight Monday, with no word from the Los Angeles Lakers on when -- or if -- Dennis Rodman would join the team.

"I heard he's coming," Shaquille O'Neal said after another practice came and went without an appearance from the seven-time defending rebounding champion.

A source close to the Lakers told The Associated Press late Sunday that Rodman was expected to sign with the team by Tuesday and be in uniform for that night's game against Charlotte.

Lakers executives Jerry West and Mitch Kupchak have been talking with Rodman's agents, team spokesman John Black said, but added that there was "absolutely nothing new to report."

A couple hours earlier, Black answered his home telephone by saying, "Dennis Rodman Hotline."

Already, the buzz over the expected arrival of the league's most colorful character may have become a distraction to the team. A loss Sunday to the Indiana Pacers dropped the Lakers to 3-3, leaving them in a three-way tie for third place in the Pacific Division.

Derek Harper, at 37 the oldest player on the team and the same age as Rodman, said over the weekend that "any distraction was going to be a cancer for this team."

"It's not a big deal to me," Harper said Monday when asked if he was tiring of all the questions. "I'm pretty focused on what's going on around here and what I'm trying to accomplish here.

"I think he can help us as a player here. If and when it happens, it happens. That's the only approach you can have. We haven't, I haven't, talked about it with anybody except the media."

The Lakers first expressed an interest in Rodman two weeks ago.

They can only offer the veterans' minimum of $1 million, prorated for this lockout-shortened season, and that money is diminishing with every game Rodman misses.

Starting Tuesday night, they'll play six games in eight days.

"I think I'll just leave that up to everybody else to talk about," Lakers coach Del Harris said when asked about Rodman.

"To be honest, I haven't heard too much about it," forward Corie Blount said. "I haven't heard the players talk about it, the coaches. It doesn't really count until the coach comes to us and tells us we have a new player on the team."

Rodman has played on five of the last 10 NBA champions, including the last three with the Chicago Bulls, who opted not to pursue him last month after Michael Jordan announced his retirement.

Representatives for Rodman's new agents from International Creative Management could not be reached Monday.