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Nets' Coleman becomes league's top-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 on Friday. 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 four years _ or $9.37-million per year. Harold MacDonald, Coleman's lawyer, said the agreement was reached late Thursday and signed by Coleman in Orlando, Fla., prior to the Nets' 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 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 an $84-million, 12-year deal.

Friday's games

Heat 115, 76ers 84: Glen Rice scored 25 points and Steve Smith 21 as Miami handed hostPhiladelphia its eighth consecutive loss.

Around the league

Clippers: Dominique Wilkins is bitter and angry over the Atlanta Hawks' decision to trade him to the Los Angeles Clippers for the younger Danny Manning. But Wilkins said Friday that he's anxious to get to a team that wants him. "I'm bitter, and a little mad, too," Wilkins said. "I felt I helped get this team to this point and then they disrespected me. The bottom line is that we were winning here. I was playing and I was having a good season."

Trade: The Milwaukee Bucks traded reserve center Dan Schayes to the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night for a conditional second-round draft pick in 1995.

_ TIMES WIRES

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