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Sprewell case will come to its official close today

The Latrell Sprewell arbitration case will come to an official close Monday, starting the clock ticking on a 30-day window for arbitrator John Feerick to issue his decision.

Closing arguments will be made before Feerick at a Manhattan law office. Sprewell will have already missed 35 games - making his suspension the longest in NBA history.Sprewell is hoping that the arbitrator reduces his one-year suspension to time served, clearing him to return to the NBA before the end of this season.

The NBA has asked the arbitrator to uphold the suspension, arguing that it was not unduly harsh.

Sprewell also has filed a grievance against the Golden State Warriors for terminating the remaining three years of his four-year, $32 million contract for the two attacks - one of which is in dispute - on coach P.J. Carlesimo at practice Dec. 1.

If Feerick allows Sprewell to return this season, he could join the San Antonio Spurs in time to be eligible for the playoff roster. Spurs officials have privately confirmed speculation they will offer Sprewell a contract for the prorated portion of the minimum salary of $272,500.

Washington Wizards owner Abe Pollin has said his team might be interested in Sprewell. The Wizards, unlike the Spurs, could offer Sprewell their available $1 million salary cap exception.

Monday's session will he the ninth day of the Sprewell hearing. Four sessions were held in Portland, Ore., at the end of January; four more were held in New York in the first week of February.

A total of 21 witnesses testified, ending with commissioner David Stern undergoing four hours of questioning Feb. 5.

Post-hearing briefs were filed last Friday.

Feerick has given no indication of how long he will take to issue a ruling although it could come at any time between now and March 18. Before the hearing began, the arbitrator turned down a motion for an expedited ruling.