Originally created 11/18/99

Rider creating more headaches in Atlanta

ATLANTA -- Only six games into his Atlanta career, Isaiah Rider has repeatedly demonstrated to the Hawks why he's considered one of the NBA's biggest headaches.

The mercurial guard returned to practice Wednesday after a one-game suspension for again running afoul of team rules, culminating with his failure to attend practice Monday.

But Rider balked at filling the sixth-man role that coach Lenny Wilkens envisions for the team's leading scorer. Rider says he deserves to be a starter "either here or there."

Rider refused to characterize his comments as a trade demand, but he is clearly unhappy in Atlanta. General manager Pete Babcock already has had preliminary talks with several teams.

"One day, he wants to be traded. The next day, he doesn't want to be traded," Babcock said. "I told him if he decides for sure that he wants to be somewhere else, we'll see if there's a market for him. I'm not opposed to making a deal."

Rider, who was acquired from the Portland Trail Blazers in an August trade, has missed two of Atlanta's eight games and been fined several times. He lost nearly $66,000 when he was suspended without pay for Tuesday's game against Charlotte.

One player short, the Hawks (2-6) defeated the Hornets 103-98 to snap a four-game losing streak. Rider said he didn't watch the game on television and again objected to playing for a team that he considers to be in a rebuilding mode.

"I'm too old to be rebuilding," the 28-year-old said. "I get frustrated when things don't go right."

Rider had a long list of transgressions on and off the court when he was acquired by Atlanta, which traded one of the league's most reliable player, Steve Smith.

The Hawks hoped Rider would change his ways, but the team also knew it was freeing up money under the salary cap if things didn't work out. He is making $5.4 million in the last year of his contract.

It is highly unlikely Rider would be released by the Hawks, who don't want to lose the flexibility of a possible sign-and-trade deal after the season.

"We made the deal looking at the worse-case scenario," Babcock said. "So far, it has been the worse-case scenario. There's no use sugarcoating it."

Rider created trouble right away with his new team, failing to show up for the first day of training camp. He provided a convoluted explanation that ranged from his fear of flying on a small plane to his reluctance to play for a team that has seven new players.

Then, Rider missed the season opener, saying he had to be in Texas for his grandfather's funeral. He assured the team he would be at practice the next day but failed to show.

In the midst of an 0-4 road trip on the West Coast, Rider stirred controversy again by refusing to start against Vancouver, saying he wasn't told about the lineup change during the morning shootaround. He wound up playing only 14 minutes.

After returning from the road trip on Monday, Rider said he couldn't attend practice because two of his luxury vehicles were damaged while parked at a hotel where he is living temporarily. But the hotel is just a short walk from Philips Arena.

"It's unfortunate what happened to my cars," Rider said. "It's unfortunate that I got suspended. Now, it's time to win. That's what makes me happy. Winning."

For now, the Hawks plan to use Rider as a sixth man, providing the kind of instant scoring off the bench that Fred Brown did when Wilkens was coaching at Seattle in the late '70s and early '80s.

"That's the way it's going to be," Wilkens said. "Hey, if you don't like it, then come out and do the job and maybe you can move into the lineup."

Rider, who has started only one game but leads the team with an average of 18 points per game, said he's a different player than Brown.

"He came off the bench shooting every time," Rider said. "That's not my style. When I'm on the floor, I'm a dominant player. I create double teams. I pass the ball around. When I'm asked to just shoot, shoot, shoot, that's embarrassing to me."

At least one of his new teammates already seems to be tiring of Rider's antics.

"I didn't bring Isaiah here," center Dikembe Mutombo said. "They (team officials) brought him here. They will have to deal with that."


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