August 8, 2005 -- The roller-coaster courtship between Shareef Abdur-Rahim and the Nets seems to be headed toward a happy ending, and both sides can only hope the marriage is more stable than the dating process.
Spurred on by yesterday's exclusive story in The Post in which Abdur-Rahim — upset by the Nets' handling of medical concerns that arose in his physical — said he no longer wanted to join the franchise, the team is expected to announce today it is going through with the deal.
Abdur-Rahim, 28, who was courted heavily by the Nets, was disillusioned by the team's last-second decision to seek additional medical opinions about scar tissue in his right knee.
When his feelings were published in yesterday's Post, Nets star Jason Kidd, coach Lawrence Frank and Thorn called Abdur-Rahim to rebuild the relationship, sources told The Post.
"Shareef is a good guy, and No. 1, he's a professional," said Thorn. "I understand there's some anxiety and trepidation when the possibility of not ending up with the team you chose arises. We feel we have all the information we need to make a decision within the next day or two."
The Nets have reason to be cautious since they are investing six years and $38 million in the deal. They sent copies of his MRI to three leading orthopedic surgeons and now must decide if they want to complete a sign-and-trade deal with the Trail Blazers.
In addition to sending Portland a protected No. 1 pick in the 2006 draft, the Nets are shipping their $4.9 million trade exception to the Trail Blazers. They lose that exception at midnight tomorrow, so time is of the essence.
"The real reason for me coming to New Jersey is I feel like we have a real good chance to compete for a championship," Abdur-Rahim said last night by telephone. "I don't think that's changed. I just wish things had been handled better, with me in mind.
"But it is what it is. I know I have a lot of basketball left in me. I thought that's one of the reasons the Nets came after me as hard as they did. I don't want them making a decision they're not comfortable with. I'm a grown man; if this goes through, I signed a contract and will work hard to earn it."
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