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© St. Petersburg Times, published October 30, 2000

Maxwell charged in assault

CHARLOTTE -- Vernon Maxwell, who was signed by the Philadelphia 76ers to replace injured rookie Speedy Claxton, was charged Wednesday with misdemeanor assault, accused of punching and kicking a Charlotte woman Sept. 2.

Maxwell, who played for the Seattle SuperSonics last season, had surrendered to police and was released from jail less than two hours after being charged.

Heidi Heather Hayden, 31, told police that Maxwell, 34, assaulted her inside her home. She said he punched and kicked her several times and that she required hospitalization for her injuries.

Maxwell's agent, Dwight Manley, would not talk specifically about the domestic-violence allegation, but said, "There are two sides to every story, and everybody has clearly put a lot of emphasis on the woman's side."

Hayden and Maxwell had a "boyfriend-girlfriend relationship" for more than two years, Hayden's attorney said.

Manley said Maxwell is divorced from his wife but supports her and their four children. He lives in Atlanta.

Maxwell played with the Charlotte Hornets for about two months in 1998. He signed a three-year contract with Seattle last year but went to the New York Knicks in the trade that sent Patrick Ewing to Seattle. The Knicks then waived him.

MAGIC: Grant Hill won't be 100 percent when the team opens the season Tuesday against the Washington Wizards, but there have been no discussions about him starting the season on the injured list.

"I guess it is a possibility, something we could explore, but I don't expect that to happen," said Hill, who is nursing a surgically repaired left ankle. "We'll see how it feels this week. Maybe giving it two weeks away to make things right would help, but I want to play. I want to start the season."

After sitting out the first three preseason games, Hill played sparingly in the final five, limited to 17 minutes or less in each game.

"It's up and down with Grant right now," said Magic coach Doc Rivers, who expects Hill to be in the lineup opening night. "For us, we just have to keep our heads above water until he can really play. The good thing is that I know, I'm sure he'll eventually get back to 100 percent. It's just going to be a slow process."

SEASON OPENERS: Rosters must be set by 6 p.m. Tuesday, when the season begins with 13 games, including Washington at Orlando at 7:30 and perhaps a Western Conference title preview with Portland hosting the Los Angeles Lakers.

In other openers Tuesday night, the Ewing-less New York Knicks will host Allen Iverson and Philadelphia, and an Indiana team Reggie Miller barely recognizes goes to San Antonio.

Wednesday night in Miami, Pat Riley will try to become the second coach in league history to record his 1,000th victory as the Heat plays Orlando. Riley, 55, who begins the season with a coaching mark of 999-434, would enter territory crossed only by Lenny Wilkens, who begins his first year as coach of the Toronto Raptors with a record of 1,179-981.

NETS: At the start of his rookie season a year ago, Evan Eschmeyer's right arm was in a sling following shoulder surgery, and the timetable for getting back in the lineup was uncertain.

This year, Eschmeyer will be the starting center when New Jersey and new coach Byron Scott open the season Tuesday against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

"Each earned it," Scott said Sunday after the Nets finished practice. "Like I said all along, Esch really played well."

In six preseason games, Eschmeyer averaged 6.3 points and 6.3 rebounds.

"I'm happy to be in this position," said Eschmeyer, a second-round draft pick out of Northwestern who injured his shoulder in September 1999 lifting weights. "I'm happy to be in the NBA and be playing, and that's the God's honest truth. My job now is to give us a lift from the start and make sure when I come out at the end of the first quarter we're on the positive side."

TIMBERWOLVES: Free-agent forward Joe Smith still wants to play for the Timberwolves, but his agent said Smith also is weighing the risk of further arbitration.

"His first preference is, and always has been, to stay in Minnesota," agent Dan Fegan said. "Having said that, there might come a point, where the risk is not worth the reward."

Thursday, lawyers for Smith and the National Basketball Players Association will meet with arbitrator Kenneth Dam to discuss whether commissioner David Stern exceeded his authority last week when he voided Smith's previous two one-year contracts with the Timberwolves, in addition to his current one.

By wiping out those contracts, Stern voided Smith's Larry Bird rights, which are available only to players who have spent three seasons with the same team. They would have allowed the Wolves to re-sign Smith after this season.

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