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Nets' Coleman becomes league's best-paid player

Move over Larry Johnson. Derrick Coleman is the new king of the salary hill in the NBA. The All-Star forward for the New Jersey Nets signed a $30-million, four-year contract Friday for an average of $7.5-million per year. The club has a $13-million option for 1998-99 with a $5.5-million buyout. The option, if exercised, would make the deal worth $37.5-million over five years. Harold MacDonald, Coleman's lawyer, said the agreement was reached late Thursday and signed by Coleman in Orlando before the game against the Magic.

"I think Derrick is one of the more talented big men in the league," Nets general manager Willis Reed said. "We would have made a big mistake by not keeping Derrick Coleman."

Coleman, who blossomed into one of the league's top forwards last season, would have been a restricted free agent after this season and an unrestricted free agent after 1994-95. The Nets wanted to keep him, but the price became a major question mark after Johnson signed a 12-year deal for $84-million, an average of $7-million a year.

Friday's games

Heat 115, 76ers 84: Glen Rice scored 25 points as Miami won on the road, handing Philadelphia its eighth straight loss.

Around the league

Hornets: Charlotte signed Marty Conlon for the remainder of the season and Tim Kempton to a second 10-day contract.

Timberwolves: Owners have reached an agreement to sell the team for $95-million to a local group, contingent on a public buyout of the Target Center, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.

_ TIMES WIRES

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