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Thursday, November 27, 2003
Nets responsible for payments to Mourning

Associated Press

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New Jersey Nets will have to pay Alonzo Mourning $22.6 million over the next four years because they were unable to insure the guaranteed contract due to the center's kidney disease.

Nets president Rod Thorn said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday that the Nets are responsible for the payments to Mourning, who earlier this week left the game because his illness worsened. The seven-time All-Star center needs a kidney transplant.

The added financial burden comes just months after the Nets spent $25 million to $30 million to buy out the contract of center Dikembe Mutombo, who spent one disappointing, injury-marred season with the team.

Thorn said the financial burden would not be an obstacle to selling the team.

"Everyone who is trying to buy the team is well aware of the situation," Thorn said when asked if Mourning's illness might make the team harder to sell.

YankeeNets, the sports conglomerate that runs the Nets, has received four bids for the team, reportedly ranging from $250 million to $275 million.

Thorn said the Nets cannot remove Mourning from their salary cap until July 2005, at the earliest. New Jersey is going to have to pay more than $10 million in luxury taxes because of its salary cap problems.