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L.A. pays to keep Harper

The Los Angeles Clippers decided Tuesday to pick up Ron Harper's $4-million option for next season, a move that will tie him with Michael Jordan as the NBA's highest-paid guard and fourth among all players.

Harper finished in the top 30 in only one category last season _ sixth in steals _ but made the jump from $2.2-million in 1992-93 into the league's elite moneymakers because of the contract he signed in the spring of 1990. That called for the Clippers to either pick up the option or make him an unrestricted free agent.

Given that choice, and with Danny Manning and Ken Norman controlling their futures, the Clippers notified Harper's agent, Mark Termini, before Tuesday's deadline that they will pay the $4-million. The sides will work on a separate multiyear deal, meaning Harper could get two huge salary windfalls in one off-season.

The only players making more than Harper is San Antonio center David Robinson, Los Angeles Lakers center Vlade Divac and Cleveland forward John Williams.

Harper finished second among the Clippers in scoring at 18 points a game, shooting 45.1 percent. He averaged 5.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.21 steals.

"I think given Ron's performance this year, capped by his showing in the playoffs, we felt the Clippers would not put themselves in a position where Ron would test the free-agent market," Termini said.

Harper, 29, was acquired in a trade with Cleveland in 1989.

Clippers interview two

LOS ANGELES _ The Clippers interviewed Bob Weiss and Bill Musselman for their head coaching vacancy last week before a pre-draft scouting combine and will talk to at least two more candidates.

Weiss was fired by the Atlanta Hawks and is now an assistant with the Detroit Pistons. Musselman was the Minnesota Timberwolves' first coach.

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