The pro basketball team in Zaragoza, Spain, wants Mel Turpin - just not all of him.
Jose Luis Rubio, the Zaragoza team president, informed Jazz president-general manager David Checketts that he tentatively plans to accept Turpin as compensation for letting Jose Ortiz out of his contract. But that side of the deal hinges on whether Rubio and agent William Strickland can agree to a weight clause in Turpin's Zaragoza contract.The Zaragoza coach, Ranko Zaravecik, was concerned about Turpin's weight after watching him play in Salt Lake City last Saturday night. Turpin's NBA contract contains a weight clause that was only partly enforced by the Jazz last season but cost him $90,000 in fines during the 1986-87 season in Cleveland.
"It's all very complicated, but I'm optimistic about the whole thing," said Checketts.
The Jazz, meanwhile, have to finalize a contract with Ortiz - and agent Warren LeGarie said Monday that he and Checketts had an agreement in principle. The Jazz also have to reach a settlement with Strickland for the remaining two years on Turpin's NBA contract, part of which could mean making his $500,000 in deferred payments due earlier than scheduled. Said Checketts, "We would have to give him some incentive for going to Europe."
In any case, the transaction will have to take place soon. The Zaragoza team wants Turpin in town by Sept. 1, so the deal should be done by the end of this week, if at all.
When Ortiz became more available, the Jazz lost any interest in signing former University of Utah forward Danny Vranes, an unrestricted free agent. Unable to find a better deal in the NBA, Vranes signed this week to play for coach Kresimir Cosic's team in Athens, Greece.
"I'm excited about it," Vranes said earlier this month after a visit to Greece.
Vranes, who will be 30 in October, spent seven years in the NBA with Seattle and Philadelphia. After he appeared in only 57 games last season, Vranes received no re-signing offer from the 76ers and was unable to take advantage of the new collective bargaining agreement that led to rich contracts for free agents Tom Chambers, Danny Schayes and Kurt Rambis this summer.