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 Thursday, March 23
Gugliotta's departure leads to Carter speculation
Associated Press

 PHOENIX -- Phoenix Suns forward Tom Gugliotta stepped aside Wednesday, asking the U.S. Olympic Team to replace him for the 2000 Games.

Tom Gugliotta

Gugliotta underwent reconstructive knee surgery last week to repair several ligaments after teammate Randy Livingston tumbled into his legs beneath the Suns' bench during a March 10 game.

"It was a dream of mine as a young basketball player to one day represent our country in the Olympic Games," Gugliotta said in a written statement. "To be picked as one of 12 players was a wonderful honor and a real highlight of my career."

Gugliotta said he expects to fully recover eventually, but it will likely be four or five months before doctors can predict when he might return. Because he won't be available for the Games in September, there has been speculation that Toronto's Vince Carter would be named his replacement.

"The medical team is very pleased with the outcome of the surgery of what was a significant knee injury," said Suns team doctor Richard Emerson, an orthopedic surgeon who performed the operation. "Tom will begin rehabilitation immediately and it is expected he will recover from the challenging and difficult rehabilitation process."

Emerson said he reconstructed or repaired complete ruptures to the anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament, a partial rupture of the posterior cruciate ligament and the separation of the medial meniscus.

Emerson has estimated that it will take a year for Gugliotta to recover.

During 54 games this season, he averaged 13.7 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.48 steals.