|Monday, September 30
Raptors anticipate injured Olajuwon will retire
TORONTO -- Hakeem Olajuwon's NBA career appears to be over.
Olajuwon has a serious back injury, and the Toronto Raptors are awaiting a decision on whether he will retire. Toronto general manager Glen Grunwald said Monday he doesn't foresee Olajuwon playing this season.
Toronto coach Lenny Wilkens said he expects a decision from Olajuwon soon.
"We're going to know in a couple of days,'' Wilkens said.
The 39-year-old center is in Houston, where he spent 17 years playing for the Rockets before joining the Raptors before last season. He has been excused from training camp by Toronto.
"He can either try and play or decide it's too much,'' Grunwald said. "We don't expect him to play this season or in the foreseeable future.''
Olajuwon, who led the Rockets to NBA championships in 1994 and 1995, went to the Raptors in August 2001 after turning down a three-year, $13 million contract offer to stay in Houston. He signed a three-year, $18 million contract with Toronto.
"It was a gamble and I think we lost on it,'' Grunwald said. "It didn't turn out the way we had hoped.''
Olajuwon averaged 7.1 points and 6.0 rebounds in 61 games last season.
Grunwald denied the Raptors were negotiating a buyout to his contract. Olajuwon is due $12 million over the next two seasons.
"We had hoped he would be here for a couple of more years, but it doesn't look like that's going to be the case,'' Grunwald said. "It could have worked great, but it didn't. We have to move on now.''
Olajuwon was selected as one of the NBA's 50 greatest players and was on the 1996 gold medal-winning Olympic basketball team. He is a 12-time NBA All-Star.