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Fight costs Bryant $5,000, suspension

The NBA fined Portland reserve forward Mark Bryant $5,000 Wednesday and ordered him to sit out the Blazers' regular-season opener for fighting during a preseason game against Sacramento. Bryant and Portland coach Rick Adelman said they were surprised by the severity of the penalty.

"I guess the league is trying to cut down on the fighting situation," Bryant said. "I think it's kind of a strong fine, but from what they said I really can't do anything about it."

Bryant and Adelman were most surprised that the penalty included a one-game suspension.

"I think they're trying to do the right thing," Adelman said. "I just think there are extenuating circumstances in this case. You're dealing with an exhibition game, where people are trying to make teams. The play sometimes gets ragged and gets a little rougher."

The incident occurred Saturday, when the 6-foot-9, 245-pound Bryant, entering his third NBA season, slugged Sacramento rookie Marty Conlon.

"Mark initiated the altercation with an elbow to the back of the head and he threw several punches at Conlon, at least one of which connected," said Rod Thorn, the NBA's vice president for operations.

Adelman disagreed with Thorn's interpretation and felt Conlon also should have been penalized.

"I think there was some jousting going on by both sides and I think it wasn't totally unprovoked," Adelman said. "I'm surprised at the suspension. I just didn't expect it."

Coleman agreement with Nets reported

The New Jersey Nets and Derrick Coleman apparently have agreed in principle to a five-year, $15-million contract that would make Coleman the highest-paid rookie in National Basketball Association history.

Harold MacDonald, Coleman's agent, said the two sides will make the contract language final today and added that his client also must pass a physical examination.

The agent said the first four years of the proposed contract were guaranteed and the Nets had an option for the fifth year. He said Coleman could wind up making as much as $16-million with incentives for such things as being voted rookie of the year and for his totals in blocked shots and rebounds.

John Mertz, a Nets spokesman, could not confirm the agreement because he said he was unable to contact Willis Reed, the senior vice president for basketball operations. Coleman, the No. 1 selection in the college draft this year, has missed rookie camp and the first 19 days of training camp.

Around the league

SuperSonics: Seattle traded third-year guard Avery Johnson to Denver for a 1997 conditional second-round draft pick. Johnson averaged 2.6 points in 53 games last season and 1.6 points in 43 games as a rookie in 1988-89. He was signed as a free agent by the Sonics after leading the nation in assists in both his junior and senior seasons at Southern University.

Nuggets: Former assistant coach Doug Moe Jr., 28, said he plans to drop discrimination charges against Denver, but will pursue his claim that the franchise breached his contract when it fired him. Moe, the son of fired Nuggets coach Doug Moe, filed the breach-of-contract lawsuit and a charge of reverse discrimination against the Nuggets' new owners, Bertram Lee and Peter Bynoe, who are black.

Celtics: Brian Shaw, making his comeback debut after a year in Italy and a summer in court to get out of playing for the Celtics, turned early boos to cheers Wednesday night as he sparked Boston to a 158-135 exhibition victory over the Denver Nuggets. Shaw scored 22 points on 9-of-10 shooting and had 11 assists.

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