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NBA CAMPS OPEN WITHOUT TOP ROOKIES

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NBA training camps are underway without the top eight picks in the draft.

Larry Johnson did not show up at Charlotte's first day of practice Friday. Nor did Kenny Anderson attend New Jersey's opening session.Johnson, the No. 1. pick out of Nevada-Las Vegas, was in Dallas continuing his workouts while the rest of the Hornets reported. First-year coach Allan Bristow admitted to his own jitters, but not over Johnson's absense.

"You have to be optimistic that these guys are going to be in shortly," Bristow said. "Again, you've got to prepare the guys that are here. You've got things to teach. We're not doing anything different now than we would do if those guys were here, and we won't do anything different when those guys get here, except for a little bit more extra work for those guys."

One player who missed Johnson was Kendall Gill, last year's first-round pick for the Hornets.

"We want to get Larry in camp as soon as possible because we need him," Gill said. "He's going to help this team, and the sooner he gets here, the better.

"He's going to bring a winning attitude, and I think he's going to bring some wins to the team, to be honest with you. Larry has no limits. He can do anything he wants to do."

Anderson made news by leaving Georgia Tech early and he's making news by arriving at the Nets' training camp late.

Anderson, who left college after his sophomore year and became the NBA's second pick overall, was a no-show at Princeton University. The two-time All-America guard is unsigned, although Willis Reed, Nets senior vice-president of basketball operations, is optimistic a deal will be worked out quickly.

Reed and Nets president Jerry Cohen met with Anderson's agent, Richard Howell, in Atlanta on Thursday.

"I thought we made some progress and have a better understanding of some of the parameters of what the Nets can do," Reed said Friday. "As a result of that, we are closer than we have probably been at any point in terms of something that would make sense for us and Anderson.

"We did talk numbers and number of years, and based on what we talked about, I would expect to hear from Richard today or tomorrow at the latest. Hopefully we're close enough that we can be optimistic that we can get it done by the first of the week."

Anderson, who was seeking $3 million a year, is the Nets' second straight No. 1 pick to hold out. Derrick Coleman missed much of last year's camp before going on to win Rookie of the Year honors.

"I bumped into Kenny last week in New York and had a chance to talk to him," Coleman said. "I just look at it as a business proposition, that you do what you have to do to get what you feel is right. Once it's all done on paper, then you have to come out and prove yourself on the court. I think he's very capable of doing that."

The highest draft pick to report Friday was No. 9, Stacey Augmon of Atlanta.

Elsewhere, missing from the San Antonio Spurs' camp were veteran point guard Rod Strickland and newly acquired forward Antoine Carr. Strickland is a restricted free agent and under no obligation to sign any contract. Carr has a three-year contract that will pay him $730,000 this season, but is looking for more money.

Absent at the Dallas Mavericks' opening was first-round pick Doug Smith, a 6-10 forward from Missouri who was the sixth overall pick in last June's draft.

"It's disappointing because we all know how difficult it is for a rookie to acclimate himself to the league," coach Richie Adubato said. "But I also understand the problem, that the five players above him haven't signed, so you don't know what price to put on a player."

Also on hand was veteran Roy Tarpley, removed from the suspended list by the league on Thursday night. Tarpley was cleared to begin practice by Dr. David Lewis, head of the ASAP Family Treatment Program which operates the NBA's aftercare for substance abuse problems.

Much of the attention at the New York Knicks' camp in Charleston, S.C., was on newcomers Pat Riley and Xavier McDaniel.

Riley, the coach with the best winning percentage in NBA history, returned from a year as a television announcer. Riley headed the Los Angeles Lakes dynasty of the 1980s and has won 73.3 percent of his games.

McDaniel was acquired from Phoenix earlier this week.

"I feel very happy about it," said McDaniel, who averaged 15.8 points and 7.2 rebounds a game for the Suns last season. "I'm in a position where I'm playing with a dominant center (Patrick Ewing) - a guy who can cover my back. I feel we can win, but we have to play together as a team."