Trade deadline spurs multiple big moves

Posted: Friday, February 25, 2005

The weakest division in the NBA suddenly looks a little stronger, with Antoine Walker back on the Celtics and Chris Webber in Philadelphia.

The NBA trade deadline came and went Thursday with a total of 11 deals involving 35 players being agreed to in the final 24 hours before the cutoff.

Baron Davis was traded from New Orleans to Golden State for Speedy Claxton and Dale Davis, Keith Van Horn went from Milwaukee to Dallas for Calvin Booth and Alan Henderson, and Houston acquired several veterans to add to the league's oldest roster.

Walker went to Boston in a four-player trade, with Gary Payton, Michael Stewart, Tom Gugliotta and a No. 1 pick going to Atlanta.

Rodney Rogers and injured forward Jamal Mashburn were dealt from New Orleans to Philadelphia for Glenn Robinson, who has not played this season. It was the second trade in a span of less than 24 hours by 76ers general manager Billy King, who pulled off a blockbuster Wednesday night by acquiring Webber from the Sacramento Kings for forwards Corliss Williamson, Brian Skinner and Kenny Thomas.

''They're going to probably win the Atlantic now,'' Cleveland's LeBron James said. ''It's going to make them one of the top four teams in the Eastern Conference. I know (Allen) Iverson is very happy about it. I'm going to call him and tell him he got an early Christmas present.''

In other deals:

— San Antonio acquired center Nazr Mohammed and guard Jamison Brewer from New York for forward Malik Rose and two future No. 1 draft picks

— Cleveland acquired guard Jiri Welsch from Boston for a future No. 1 pick.

— New York acquired forward Maurice Taylor from Houston for guard Moochie Norris, forward Vin Baker and a second-round draft pick.

— Houston got guard Mike James and center Zendon Hamilton from Milwaukee for guard Reece Gaines and two future second-round picks.

— Golden State sent center Eduardo Najera to Denver, guard Luis Flores and a No. 1 pick to Denver for forward Nikoloz Tskitishvili and guard Rodney White.

— Charlotte dealt veteran Steve Smith to Miami for forward Malik Allen.

Webber was on the telephone with former Michigan teammate Jalen Rose when Webber received a call from Kings coach Rick Adelman to inform him of the trade.

''He didn't know what to think at the point, but like I was telling him, there's really no power forwards in the East,'' Rose said. ''To get a chance to play with Allen Iverson, I think it's going to be good for him.''

Webber was expected to play his first game for the Sixers on Saturday night against, of all teams, Sacramento.

None of Thursday's 10 deals — making it the busiest deadline day for trades in a decade — matched the magnitude of the six-player swap late Wednesday night in which the 76ers got Webber and forwards Michael Bradley and Matt Barnes.

The Sixers are 26-27 and just a half-game behind Boston for first place in the Atlantic Division.

In the 76ers' other deal, the major principles — Mashburn and Robinson — are injured and have not played this season. Rogers can become a free agent at the end of the year, but his 3-point shooting fits nicely with coach Jim O'Brien's offensive philosophy.

Mashburn is making $9.3 million this year and $10.1 million next year, but seems likely to retire because of a knee injury.

Davis, a two-time All-Star who finished sixth in the NBA in scoring last season, will form a potent backcourt combination with Jason Richardson in Golden State. He has missed 36 games this season while struggling with several injuries and is still owed $63 million over the next four years.

The former UCLA star craved a return to California after spending his first 5 1/2 seasons in Charlotte and New Orleans with the Hornets, who drafted him third overall in 1999.

''It was just time for us to part ways,'' Davis said.

The ever-tinkering Mavericks made a surprising move in getting Van Horn, who has been hobbled all season by tendinitis in his right ankle.

He's averaged 17 points and 7.3 rebounds over a career that has included stints with the Nets, 76ers, Knicks and Bucks.

''Keith's versatility, experience and shooting ability were the factors for us to make this decision,'' said Donnie Nelson, Dallas' head of basketball operations.

Van Horn is due nearly $16 million next season, while Henderson becomes a free agent and Booth is owed a little more than $6 million. The Bucks are expected to spend the extra money on a contract extension for shooting guard Michael Redd, who can become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

''I think what we've established is that Michael (Redd) is a piece to building a championship team,'' Bucks general manager Larry Harris said. ''He has a skill that is unmatched (except) by maybe four or five players in the league.''

Walker spent seven years with the Celtics from 1996-2003, helping them reach the Eastern Conference finals in 2001-02. But nine days before the 2003-04 season opener, Celtics basketball boss Danny Ainge traded Walker to Dallas.

Walker was leading Atlanta with 20.4 points, 9.4 rebounds and 40.2 minutes.

Payton, a nine-time All-Star, reluctantly came to Boston last summer after the Lakers traded him in the aftermath of their Shaq-and-Kobe breakup. He is averaging 12.1 points and 6.1 assists this season, below his career averages of 17.7 and 7.2. The trades of Payton and Welsch leave the Celtics to rely on youngsters Tony Allen and Marcus Banks to flank All-Star Paul Pierce.

The trades made by the Rockets will provide two veteran backcourt options for the rest of the season and short-term relief for the back injury that is expected to sideline starter Bob Sura for another week.

James, a four-year veteran, appeared in 47 games for Milwaukee and averaged 11.4 points, 2.6 rebounds and 3.9 assists. Norris was averaging 2.6 points and 1.3 assists for New York.

New York's moves appeared to be a sign that Knicks president Isiah Thomas was placing a greater emphasis on rebuilding through the draft.

''I never spoke to Sacramento about Chris Webber,'' Thomas said. ''I don't think that's the healthy and secure way to go.''

For the Spurs, the acquisition of Mohammed provides an additional option at center behind Rasho Nesterovic and at power forward behind Tim Duncan.

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