Sacramento Kings co-owner Joe Maloof said Thursday that he has no intention of bringing Dennis Rodman out of retirement ... but not because he's totally against the idea.
Maloof and brother Gavin are among the league's most open-minded owners, and Joe Maloof admitted that "we would at least look at it" if Rodman proposed a comeback at age 42. Maloof said a comeback was not discussed when the brothers had dinner with Rodman recently.
The biggest obstacle to signing Rodman (or any other player), Maloof told ESPN.com, is that the Kings are determined to trim payroll after carrying a roster in 2002-03 that will require the club to pay $18 million in luxury-tax penalties. Meaning that the Kings don't plan to add anyone in free agency, even with their hated rivals from Los Angeles signing Gary Payton and Karl Malone this week and with other West contenders strengthening themselves.
"We're pretty happy with the team we have," Maloof said. "Our roster is pretty much full. I don't know how you can improve our team (from a personnel standpoint). Our goal is to keep a consistent core of players and get better from within. If we can stay healthy, I don't want to panic and do too many things."
That's because Maloof treasures the Kings' vaunted chemistry. Few locker rooms in the league are as close-knit as Sacramento's. It's difficult to envision the Maloofs or executive vice president Geoff Petrie risking that chemistry by bringing in the combustible Rodman, even if he can still rebound at a high level more than three seasons removed from his last NBA game.
Maloof is serious about the money concerns as well. He said it was unlikely that the Kings can even re-sign reserve swingman Jim Jackson, who joined the team in December for the league's veteran minimum of $1 million and wound up displacing Hedo Turkoglu and Gerald Wallace from coach Rick Adelman's rotation.
"Dennis will not be in a Sacramento Kings uniform," Maloof said. "He was a great, great player, and I think he's still in pretty good shape, but our roster is pretty set."
Rodman told ESPN's Outside the Lines Nightly that he wants to return for one last NBA fling because his last two stints were brief and marred by controversy. He lasted just 23 games with the Lakers in the lockout-shortened 1999 season, then only 12 games with his hometown Dallas Mavericks in 1999-2000.
"The way I left and the way it all came about wasn't right," Rodman said during Wednesday's interview. "So I feel like I need to come back and finish my career the way I need to.
"All the great players in the league finished their careers on a high note, and a good note. That's the way I should do my last hurrah."
Rodman, a seven-time NBA rebounding champion who won five championship rings in his 14 seasons, also said during the interview that playing for the Kings would provide a "delicious" opportunity to "screw the Lakers."
Maloof did like the sound of that, saying with a laugh: "Everyone wants to stick it to the Lakers. It's a matter of having a good enough team to do it. They're going to be fun to watch (with Payton and Malone), but nobody knows how they're all going to play together. Nobody knows how it's all going to turn out."