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Schintzius hasn't changed his act

If Dwayne Schintzius is back on the basketball court, can controversy be far behind? You didn't think a new contract would mean a new player, now did you?

Players change teams, but memories remain.

Schintzius, the former Florida Gators bad-boy center, has taken his act to San Antonio. Already, he has drawn the ire of his teammates, who questioned his decision to skip practice last Wednesday.

Schintzius wanted out because he said he was catching a cold. The Spurs, however, beg to differ.

"He's got basketball flu. A 98.6-degree fever. How is anyone on your team going to respect you when you do something like that?" asked coach Larry Brown.

They don't.

"Everyone on this team has played with some sort of sniffles, cough or congestion. That's what he should do," power forward Terry Cummings said. "If he's quitting on us now, he can quit on us during the season."

Face the music: Charlotte Hornets small forward Kelly Tripucka had to know his playing time was in jeopardy when the team signed free-agent Johnny Newman in the off-season.

Newman and Tripucka play the same position.

Newuman is 26, Tripucka 31.

Newman is averaging 18.6 points in preseason, Tripucka 9.0.

Tripucka averaged 15.6 points last year, shooting 43 percent from the floor. What little mobility on defense he once possessed is fading fast.

"I can accept a lesser role on a stronger team. But on a team like this, I can't accept it," Tripucka said.

"What do I have to do? I don't want to end up losing. A lot of people have been jerked around on this team. Am I next?"

What Charlotte coach Gene Littles understands but Tripucka has failed to grasp is that the expansion Hornets finished 19-63 with Tripucka at small forward.

Kelly, it's time for a change.

"I don't want a guy who accepts not starting," Littles said. "But when he sits and sulks, that's not good."

Unfinished business: Under the complicated terms of last month's confusing Hawks-Rockets trade, Houston could lose a 1994 first-round draft choice should center Tim McCormick miss a considerable number of games.

McCormick, who has had knee surgery five times, came to Atlanta with guard John Lucas for guards Kenny Smith and Roy Marble. Lucas has retired, so Houston received two players for one.

But Atlanta might have the final say in the trade.

"We wanted protection," Hawks general manager Pete Babcock said. "On the surface, we've taken a little heat over this trade because Smith is a good player. But we're going to get either a healthy McCormick or a first-round pick out of this."

Should McCormick miss a combined 100 games in the next four years, Atlanta would get Houston's top pick in '94. But that pick could not be higher than the No.

6 overall selection. If the Rockets were drafting in the top six, Atlanta would receive Houston's pick the following year.

Should McCormick be available for 75 games in each of the next two years, the Hawks get no picks.

Before last season, when he was available for only 18 games, McCormick played in 70 or more games in five consecutive seasons.

Will Rodgers never met Harold MacDonald: New Jersey coach Bill Fitch doesn't like Harold MacDonald, the agent for No. 1 draft choice Derrick Coleman. And that's putting it kindly.

Coleman is expected to sign today, becoming the next-to-last first-round pick to sign.

Fitch is angry. He said Coleman will need at least 20 games to get in playing shape.

"I don't know who said "I never met a man I didn't like,' whether it was Will Rodgers or Elizabeth Taylor," said Fitch. "But I'm convinced neither one met Harold MacDonald."

Dynamite in Dallas: If it's pro basketball season, it must be time for a Roy Tarpley story.

Again.

Tarpley, one of the most talented and troubled players in the game, had a screaming match with Dallas coach Richie Adubato after a practice last week.

"He said some things, and I guess I said some things," Tarpley said.

Adubato wanted Tarpley, the Mavs' gifted 7-footer, to do some extra conditioning.

Tarpley, who weighs 260 pounds, has a body-fat content of 20.4 percent. The Mavs want those numbers down to 250 pounds and 10 percent body fat.

Tarpley, who faces a lifetime ban if he fails the league's substance-abuse policy one more time, said he skipped the after-practice workout to attend an ASAP (Adults Substance Abuse Program) meeting.

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