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Adrian Dantley has become an NBA hot potato the Dallas Mavericks hope to trade before the league's deadline tonight.

The 6-foot-5 forward, obtained last week from the Detroit Pistons in a trade for Mark Aguirre, said Wednesday he didn't want to play for Dallas unless his contract was extended.Team officials, scrambling to beat the 8 p.m. trading deadline, decided they would try to deal Dantley to another team.

"There were no harsh words, no bridges burned," Mavericks owner Donald Carter said after a phone conversation with Dantley on Wednesday. "Dallas has to do what we have to do. A.D. has to do what he has to do. I respect his decision and I hope he respects mine."

Dantley could not be reached for comment.

Carter hopes to get a first-round draft pick for the 13-year NBA veteran.

"No team is off our list and the first team which gets here with a first (round pick) gets Adrian," he said.

The Mavericks, playing without Dantley, Derek Harper, who has tendinitis in a knee, and Bill Wennington, out with by a sprained ankle, lost to Denver 109-106 Wednesday night. The Mavs also lost center James Donaldson with a groin injury early in the fourth quarter.

The Mavericks will place Dantley on the NBA's suspended list if they are unable to trade for a first-round draft choice in 1992, 1993 or 1994.

Dantley will not be paid for the three games he has missed, a total of about $45,000 after Wednesday night's game in Denver. Dantley makes $1.2 million per year.

"... We'll have to suspend Dantley for the rest of the year," Mavericks General Manager Norm Sonju told the Dallas Times Herald. "We'll put that in writing and make sure he understands it. We're not going to allow a guy to waltz in here April 3 and announce that he's ready to play. Once we get a new player in, we're past that point."