Just a little of their big man is all the Clippers get this season.
The pleasure they derived from Stanley Roberts scoring 13 points in his first game since rupturing his right Achilles' tendon in December turned to heartbreak Wednesday night when the 7-footer crashed to the floor with the same season-ending injury in the other leg.
In his 13th minute of action, with 6:29 to play in the Clippers' 101-98 win over the Atlanta Hawks, Roberts chased after the long rebound of his missed free throw. Roberts gathered in a loose ball and shoveled in a short shot. Trying to convert a three-point play, Roberts hit the ground when his left leg buckled. He writhed in pain for a few minutes, clutching his heel, before being taken by stretcher to the locker room.
Roberts, who returned to the practice Oct. 20 after dropping 30 pounds to 320 over the past few months, said: "Same exact feeling. Same pain, same place."
"This is a season injury," said Dr. Gene Osher, who is scheduled to operate on Roberts today while the team is in Mexico City for a four-team exhibition. Osher, who called the weight Roberts carries "part of the problem" in addition to the center's "relatively small tendons for a man his size," estimated the recovery time at nine months to a year.
Roberts, 24, reported to training camp Oct. 6 for his fourth NBA season weighing close to 340 pounds, despite three stays over the summer at the Duke University weight-loss clinic.
"I did have a chance to talk to him," Clippers coach Bill Fitch said. "We talked about the mistakes he made (in rehabilitation) last time when he had the injury. This time he will handle it better."
Roberts ruptured his right Achilles' Dec. 4 against the Lakers, and the Clippers finished last in the Pacific Division.
Mullin out 6 to 8 weeks
OAKLAND _ Forward Chris Mullin of the Golden State Warriors will miss six to eight weeks while he recovers from a knee injury.
The 6-foot-7 five-time All-Star sustained a chip fracture and sprained ligament in his left knee and also strained his left hamstring in the third quarter of the Warriors' 95-90 victory Wednesday over Portland.
It's the third straight season Mullin, 31, has missed significant playing time. He missed the final 36 games of the 1992-93 season with a torn right thumb ligament and sat out the first 20 games last season with a torn ligament in the fifth finger of his right hand.
Forward Billy Owens will be out about two weeks with a strained left hamstring and all-star guard Tim Hardaway has a sprained wrist.
Around the league
Timberwolves: First Bank System, which planned to invest $9-million in Glen Taylor's $88.5-million purchase of the team, now will put up 5 percent, or about $4.3-million. Federal regulations prohibit banks from owning more than 5 percent of voting stock in nonbanking businesses. Taylor said he feels "pretty comfortable" that he can find investors willing to put in a minimum of $1-million each. Taylor said commissioner David Stern did not seem alarmed, nor did he require that Taylor hold to his original financing plan.
Magic: The team waived free-agent forward Marcus Stokes, who averaged 5.7 points in three preseason games. The roster is at 16. If the Magic places the maximum-allowed three players on the injured list, one more player will have to be cut by 6 p.m. Nov. 3.
Trail Blazers: Free-agent guard Negele Knight was signed to a one-year contract after guard Terry Porter had ankle surgery. Knight, a four-year veteran, averaged 9.2 points and three assists in 65 games last season with the Suns and Spurs.
Rockets: Vernon Maxwell was fined $3,500 by the NBA for his actions during Monday night's game against the Cavaliers at Oklahoma City. Maxwell was ejected after throwing a forearm at Chris Mills. The ejection carried an automatic $1,000 fine.
Nuggets: Industrialist Philip Anschutz and Comsat Corp., which owns the team, announced plans to build a $110-million arena near downtown Denver. The partners hope the city will let the team out of the remaining 14 years on its McNichols Sports Arena lease, allowing the stadium to open for the 1997-98 season.