Rony Seikaly really wanted to be a member of the Utah Jazz - at least that's his story now, and he's sticking with it.
"I can't stress enough how much of a great opportunity I feel it would have been with Utah," the 6-11 center, now a member of the Nets, said prior to the Jazz's 122-115 victory over New Jersey Friday night in Continental Airlines Arena. "I would have had a chance to win a championship and play with Karl Malone and John Stockton. It would have been a dream."The deal breaker, Seikaly insists, was his injured foot. Seiklay has not played for the Nets as of yet due to a bone contusion in his right foot, which is now in a cast. He was placed on the injured list Friday, meaning he will miss at least five more games.
Seikaly contends that the Jazz - upon finding out the severity of the injury - took the trade off the table. He also says, however, that the Jazz must have had a change of heart just prior to the trade deadline. Utah, according to Seikaly, called his former team, the Orlando Magic, and wanted to resurrect the deal at the 11th hour. Orlando, despite the fact that it liked Utah's offer of Greg Foster and Chris Morris better, had already made the deal it made the Nets. So Morris and Foster returned to the Jazz for good.
"I was packing my bags and ready to go to Utah when I got my MRI (of the foot) back," he said. "Then the doctor told me I would be out for six to eight weeks. We called Utah and told them of the situation. . . . The bottom line is - to cut all the confusion - I wanted to go to Utah. They called the deal off because of my foot."
Money issues and contract lengths, according to the player, had nothing to do with the deal being voided.
"We had preliminary discussions about those things," he said. "But then we found out there was nothing we could do because there are so many rules in the collective bargaining agreement. So I said, `Forget everything. I'll go with my contract as is.' It had nothing to do with money."
He was asked several times why he didn't show up within the prescribed 48-hour period after the trade and was evasive. "That had nothing to do with (the trade not being completed)," he said.
"I spent the first 24-hour period gathering my stuff and in the last few hours of the second 24-hours I was going to grab my bags and leave," he said. "But that's when all this (with the foot) happened. At that time I thought I had a stress fracture. So it was, `What do I do now?' "
The Jazz have maintained that the deal was voided because Seikaly failed to report in the mandated 48-hour period. Of course, even if he had reported, the trade might have been voided if Seikaly failed to pass a physical exam.
"Our feeling is that (the Seikaly trade) is now behind us and we're moving forward," said Jazz general manager Tim Howells when contacted Friday night.
The Jazz confirmed that they were having trade talks right up to the Feb. 19 trade deadline, but would not confirm they made an offer for Seikaly in the final minutes.
Some have speculated that Seikaly just didn't want to be in Utah. He said that simply is not true.
"The fans in Salt Lake are like no others," he said. "I wanted to be in Utah. It was just an unfortunate thing because of the injury. . . . (The Jazz) were not willing to wait (for the foot to heal) with Ostertag being out and Foster being gone. . . . It would have been so exciting. All my friends and my family and everyone called me and were happy I was going to Utah. But it just didn't work out."