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Friday, July 19, 2002
Gonzalez NBA quest sidetracked for now

By Len Pasquarelli
ESPN.com

It appears that Tony Gonzalez's flirtation with the NBA is over, at least for now.

The Kansas City Chiefs tight end, designated as a "franchise" player but still without a contract, on Thursday left the Miami Heat summer league squad in Long Beach, Calif., apprising team officials he needed time to prepare for training camp.

The Chiefs open training camp next Thursday in River Falls, Wis., but it is doubtful that Gonzalez will be there at the outset, and his absence could be a long one given the tenor of negotiations to this point. General manager Carl Peterson and agent Tom Condon fired verbal salvos through the Kansas City media earlier this spring and an atmosphere for amicable bargaining has yet to be forged.

Regarded by most personnel evaluators as the league's premier player at his position, Gonzalez had 73 catches for 917 yards and six touchdowns in 2001. In five seasons, he has 334 receptions for 3,958 yards and 30 touchdowns.

Slowed by a sprained ankle he suffered last Thursday night, Gonzalez has missed two straight games for the Heat's summer league team, which had two games remaining. He logged 29 minutes in two appearances and had three points and 11 rebounds.

His playing time would have been reduced even without the injury since the Heat had added some new players, including first-round draft choice Caron Butler, to the roster. Gonzalez played basketball collegiately at the University of California.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.