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Raptors Nix Stoudamire Trade

NEW YORK -- Damon Stoudamire was nearly traded to the Houston Rockets on Wednesday afternoon, but the Toronto Raptors decided to put the trade on hold after better offers started flooding in from other NBA teams.

The Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks, Vancouver Grizzlies, Portland Trail Blazers and Orlando Magic were in contention to acquire Stoudamire, according to several league sources who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

The proposals were much better than what Houston was offering Kevin Willis, Mario Elie and a third player -- either Brent Price, Matt Maloney or Emanuel Davis -- and a No. 1 draft choice in 1998 for Stoudamire, Walt Williams and Zan Tabak.

"I can't worry about everything that's going on off the court," Stoudamire said after his last-second shot lifted Toronto over Sacramento 99-98 Wednesday night.

"There's been a lot of distractions, a lot of talk of me going here, going there. But the main thing for me to do is play basketball," said Stoudamire, who scored 36 points. "I've said it from the day all this stuff started, that all I wanted to do was to continue playing basketball. Whatever else happens, happens."

Raptors general manager Glen Grunwald said he expects to make a trade within a week, but suggested the deal may not necessarily involve Stoudamire. Grunwald would not say what other players he was taking about dealing.

"He likes Toronto," Grunwald said of Stoudamire. "I would like to find a way to get him to stay here."

The Lakers' offer for Stoudamire was said to include Nick Van Exel and Elden Campbell. The Knicks offered Chris Mills, Chris Childs and-or Charlie Ward, along with the Raptors' own lottery-protected pick in 1998. New York also offered to pay most of the salaries for the players it would send to Toronto.

The Grizzlies were offering rookie point guard Antonio Daniels and the Trail Blazers were offering a package including Kenny Anderson.

Nets general manager John Nash said New Jersey had dropped out of contention in its bid to acquire Stoudamire. He denied that Sam Cassell and a draft pick had been offered, but acknowledged talking to the Raptors about obtaining Marcus Camby.

The Trail Blazers' chances were enhanced by the fact that Stoudamire is from Portland -- and team owner Paul Allen is a billionaire who could afford to pay Stoudamire's highest asking price after he becomes a free agent next summer.

It was not clear what Orlando was offering. An inquiry by Golden State was rebuffed because Stoudamire would not want to re-sign with the Warriors.

A possible deal between the Raptors and Rockets was reported Wednesday by the Houston Chronicle. and Toronto Sun. ESPN reported that the deal would happen Wednesday.

It was the latest in a long line of offers made by the Rockets in the past several days.

It was so close to being done, in fact, that the Raptors were already calling other teams Wednsday morning looking for a point guard to replace Stoudamire.

But Grunwald slowed the process when he started receiving improved offers.

"Nothing is going to happen today," one of the sources told the AP late in the afternoon.

Stoudamire, 24, is Toronto's captain and leading scorer at 19.1 points per game. The franchise's first-ever draft choice, the 5-foot-10 guard has voiced frustration during a 6-33 season that included the departure of team president and part owner Isiah Thomas after a failed buyout bid.

"Nobody wants to lose Damon Stoudamire and Walt Williams, but I have nothing to do with it," coach Darrell Walker said. "I'm going to coach the guys that come here."

Stoudamire is in the last year of a rookie contract that pays him $1.7 million.

Williams signed a five-year, $20 million deal with the Raptors after last season. He has been injured much of the season.

"Wherever I'm at I'll make the best of the situation," Williams said at a morning shootaround. "I don't know what's really going on."

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