Houston Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich refused comment Thursday on reports that forward Scottie Pippen has demanded a trade to the Los Angeles Lakers that would reunite him with his former coach, Phil Jackson.
"We're not talking about trades," Tomjanovich said after the team summoned reporters for a news conference. "I do my thing privately with my players, and these things basically stay private."
Pippen's agent, Jimmy Sexton, told the Houston Chronicle on Wednesday that the Rockets were looking into the forward's request for a trade to the Lakers.
"The issue of the Lakers has been talked about," Sexton said. "There have been discussions with the two clubs. They told us that the Rockets have some distance between the offer and what the Rockets would be willing to do."
Sexton did not return a call Thursday from The Associated Press. Lakers officials refused comment.
Tomjanovich called the reports about Pippen, 33, just another obstacle as he tries to rebuild the aging Rockets.
"This job I've found has a lot of obstacles in it, and this is just another one," he said. "I just try to stay positive."
Asked if Pippen had any interest in remaining with the Rockets, Tomjanovich refused to say.
"You'd have to ask him that," the coach said.
Pippen's time in Houston hasn't been as successful as the Rockets hoped when they acquired him in a sign-and-trade agreement with the Bulls last January.
Pippen complained about his role in the Rockets offense while averaging 14.5 points per game, the lowest since his rookie year. He hit a career-low 43.2 percent of his shots.
He has four years remaining on his Houston contract.
Sexton said his client has nothing against the Rockets but would like to be reunited with the former Bulls coach he along with Michael Jordan helped to win six NBA championships.
"He and Phil Jackson have an extremely close relationship from 11 years working together day in and day out," Sexton said. "Scottie is an attractive piece of the puzzle for a lot of teams, but it probably would not be an issue if Phil Jackson was not there."
Trading Pippen wouldn't be easy. Any deal would require adjustments to offset the $14,795,000 he counts against the salary cap.
Pippen reportedly told Robert Barr, the Rockets' senior executive vice president for basketball affairs, to seek a trade with the Lakers.
Barr, who had been with the team for 16 years, resigned Wednesday, saying he needs a break from basketball and wants to spend more time with his family. Barr also has refused comment on Pippen's future.
Despite disappointing offensive numbers for 1999, Pippen averaged 6.5 rebounds and was named to the NBA All-Defensive first team.
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