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Hornets' Jones Asks For Trade

If the Charlotte Hornets don't immediately work out a sign-and-trade with Miami, Eddie Jones could independently commit to the Heat or the Chicago Bulls "at any time," Jones' attorney said.

Jones wants to play for the Heat and is trying to avoid signing for the $2.25 million salary-cap exception. That's the most money Miami can offer Jones in the absence of a sign-and-trade.

Chicago is the team with enough cap room to offer Jones a maximum contract without a sign-and-trade.

"It appears that Charlotte can't seem to get anything done with Miami," attorney Leon Rose told The Charlotte Observer in a story published Sunday. "And Eddie is not going to be held hostage by that. Unfortunately, it puts Eddie in a situation where he must make a decision."

If Jones signs with Miami or Chicago, the Hornets lose their top scorer, and the NBA's steals leader, without compensation.

The Hornets thought they were close to a deal Friday that would have swapped Jones and Hornets guard Ricky Davis for Jamal Mashburn, Clarence Weatherspoon and Rodney Buford.

However, another deal that would have sent Brad Miller to the Indiana Pacers for cash and a future first-round pick is on hold. The Hornets need the Pacers' $4.5 million trade exception to make that Miami deal work.

"We're working really hard to make this happen with Miami," said Hornets vice president Bob Bass. "And we just haven't been able to make something happen that is acceptable to the three parties - the Hornets, the Heat and Eddie Jones.

"To make it work, we have to get a third team (with cap space) involved, and that's what we haven't been able to do."

Bass said the primary problem is Jones' base-year status.

The Hornets could take back only half of Jones' salary next season in a trade, assuming he gets a maximum contract. Rose said there's definitely a trade the Hornets could make with the Heat that does not involve a third team. Bass said he rejected that option.

"The one that could be done is not acceptable to us," Bass said. "You consider soething, you talk about it and then you say, `We don't want to do that.' To do something just to do it is not to our advantage."

Free agents can't sign contracts until Tuesday, but much of the salary-cap space for maximum contracts already has been committed.

Bass says he's prepared to lose Jones for nothing, if it comes to that.

"There's nothing we can do if he takes the mid-level exception," in Miami, Bass said. "And nothing we can do if he signs with Chicago."

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