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Lakers To Fine Absent Rodman

Dennis Rodman, on a paid leave from the Los Angeles Lakers for unspecified personal reasons, will be fined because of the length of time he has been away.

Coach Kurt Rambis confirmed in Cleveland, where the Lakers play the Cavaliers tonight, that Rodman will be assessed an undetermined amount, Los Angeles area newspapers reported in today's editions.

However, Rambis and Lakers players vehemently denied a TNT cable network report that team members voted unanimously that Rodman be fined.

Players haven't even discussed Rodman as an issue, said Shaquille O'Neal."Any votes that go down are called by the president, handled by the president and tallied up by the president -- me," the player told the Daily News of Los Angeles.

"That's crazy. That's ridiculous," Rambis said of the report of a team vote. "We handle our disciplinary problems internally, through management."

Rodman has missed two games of a six-game road trip over nine days. He was not at a morning practice in Cleveland today. He first missed a practice last Saturday, and after meeting with Rambis was granted the indefinite leave to handle his personal affairs.

The Worm will be lighter in the wallet when he returns to L.A.
Rodman will be lighter in the wallet when he returns to L.A. (AP)

While the Lakers were losing in Sacramento Sunday, Rodman reportedly was in Las Vegas. A public relations firm, Baker Winokur Rider, which began working for Rodman this week had no comment today when asked about his whereabouts by The Associated Press.

A spokesman said the firm's only statement is one issued earlier in the week -- that Rodman planned to rejoin the team soon, possibly during the current road trip.

Rambis said Wednesday the fine "has nothing to do with Vegas. It's just a general practice of the team, you're allowed certain leniencies with some things, but you're still responsible for being with the team ... I think the difference lies in how long an absence is."

After Rodman joined the slumping Lakers last month, they ran off 10 straight victories including nine in which Rodman played, averaging 10.3 rebounds per game. He reportedly had an elbow injury which kept him out of the second half of the last game in which he played.

The premier rebounder of the `90s, who played on five NBA championship teams in Detroit and Chicago before this year, is being paid about $500,00 for this strike-shortened season. He needed to play in Chicago, New York or Los Angeles to collect $3 million this year on a Converse shoe contract.

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