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Kemp's hopes a Mile High
Big man sees comeback in Denver
By Marc J. Spears
Denver Post Staff Writer
Dallas - Although the Western Conference champion Dallas Mavericks have shown interest in Shawn Kemp, the six-time all-star is optimistic he will end up returning to the NBA in a Nuggets uniform next season.
Kemp hasn't played since the 2002-03 season with Orlando in large part because of weight problems and off-court issues, but after losing about 70 pounds he hopes to return. The 14-year veteran worked out at the Nuggets' free-agent camp last weekend.
When asked about his recent meeting with George Karl, who coached him in Seattle, Kemp said Thursday he was optimistic about signing with Denver.
"Things are looking very promising," said Kemp, 36. "I got a chance to talk to (Karl) before I left, and things are looking good. I'll say that much. I'm hoping so. I think the opportunity will definitely be there.
"I think the situation definitely would be good for me, because I've worked with a lot of guys in the Denver Nuggets' organization. I think the chances are very good that I'm going to be a Denver Nugget next (season)."
Kemp was expected to work out with the Mavericks in the regular season but never did. Kemp said he will be in Dallas on Saturday for the NBA Finals, but is coming to cheer for former Seattle teammate Gary Payton of the Miami Heat and not to talk to the Mavericks.
"My main purpose really to go to Dallas is I want Gary Payton to see my face," Kemp said. "I want to say 'Hi' to him."
Kemp said he will talk with other teams, including Dallas, but not anytime soon.
"I'm going to continue to run and continue to work out in this hot heat and continue to get my body a little stronger," he said.
Kemp played for the 1996 U.S. Olympic team and for Seattle with Karl in the 1996 NBA Finals. During the lockout in 1998, Kemp reportedly went from 260 pounds to nearly 320 pounds.
The Nuggets can't sign free agents until July 12. They could land Kemp for $744,551 for a one-year deal, with the NBA paying the other $433,797 because he has played at least 10 years.
"I'm thinking this can happen," Kemp said. "We'll know a little bit more after the draft. But so far things are looking pretty good."
No Nuggets executive could be reached for comment. Nuggets guard Greg Buckner said he was impressed by Kemp's hard work to return to the NBA and would welcome him to the team. Buckner said Kemp could be a good mentor for the Nuggets' young players.
"He looks good. He has some more work in conditioning to get back," Buckner said.
wow, cant wait to see him again! I hope his 40" vertical is back to... would bring back some awesome memories!
Dude, with the weight he's been packing? Forget a forty inch vertical. If he's got a fourteen inch vertical I'll be impressed.
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