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EDNEY WANTS NUGGETS JOB.

Byline: Daily News Wire Services

Tyus Edney had a better rookie season than point guards Kevin Johnson, John Stockton, Mookie Blaylock, Gary Payton, Kenny Anderson and Rod Strickland.

All but Edney are NBA stars. All but Edney aren't looking for work this summer.

``I'm your point guard,'' Edney said Wednesday after the Denver Nuggets opened their newcomers camp, ``if you need one.''

Edney, 24, likely will play this season for the Nuggets. They need him as much he needs them. Only an unsigned contract separates them, and that's expected to be resolved.

After quarterbacking UCLA to the 1995 national championship, Edney became a second-round draft pick of the Sacramento Kings, the 47th selection. Edney, though, played like a lottery pick, averaging 10.8 points, 6.1 assists and 31 minutes in 80 games, 60 of which were starts. He helped the Kings qualify for the playoffs for the first time in 10 years.

Edney's reward? The Kings obtained Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf in a trade with the Nuggets, and Edney's playing time and numbers diminished in his second season. Given mostly a backup role in 70 games, he averaged 6.9 points and 3.2 assists and shot just 38 percent for a club that quickly regressed and finished 34-48.

``I'm here,'' Edney said, ``because there's opportunity here. I haven't signed a contract yet, but this definitely is my preference. The Nuggets have a new coaching staff, a new front office. And they're planning to play the style I like to play. Up and down the court, pushing the ball. That plays right into my strengths.''

Edney's career at UCLA didn't match his diminutive (5-foot-10, 152 pounds) size. He was a bigger-than-life Bruin when he left, the MVP of the West Regional. It was Edney's full-court, beat-the-clock layup that stunned Missouri and kept the Bruins marching toward their first NCAA title since 1975.

The only player in UCLA history with 600 assists (652) and 200 steals (224), Edney averaged 14.3 points and 6.8 assists in his magical senior year.

``I think I've proved that I can run a team,'' Edney said. ``But sometimes you have to prove yourself all over again.''

Despite the lack of a contract, Edney will play for the Nuggets next week in a Salt Lake City summer league that's stocked with several Western Conference clubs.

``We want to see him in our system,'' Nuggets coach Bill Hanzlik said. ``We love his speed.

``He had an exceptional rookie season, then tailed off some last year. I'm not sure why, but I don't care. He's the classic `jet' everybody talks about.'' George Zidek, UCLA's center when Edney played for the Bruins, plays for the Nuggets. Edney jokingly was asked if the remainder of UCLA's starting five from 1995 - Toby Bailey and the O'Bannon brothers, Ed and Charles - will join them in Denver. ``That certainly would be fun,''Edney said.
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Title Annotation:SPORTS
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jul 27, 1997
Words:481
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