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Wednesday, June 26, 2002
Updated: June 28, 8:06 PM ET
Nuggets trade McDyess, get draft-day makeover

Associated Press

DENVER -- The Denver Nuggets sent disgruntled forward Antonio McDyess to the New York Knicks for center Marcus Camby and guard Mark Jackson Wednesday night, and also drafted two young foreign players.

Nikoloz Tskitishvili
Nikoloz Tskitishvili of Italy's Benetton Treviso will be part of the new-look Nuggets.

With the fifth choice overall, the Nuggets took a chance on a talented player who may need a year or two of seasoning, selecting 7-foot forward Nikoloz Tskitishvili, 19, from the Republic of Georgia.

There were reports before the draft that the Nuggets would trade McDyess and the 25th pick to the Knicks for Camby, Jackson and the seventh pick.

That trade became official, so the Nuggets also got 6-11 forward-center Maybyner "Nene'' Hilario of Brazil, another 19-year-old who was taken seventh overall by the Knicks.

Nuggets general manager Kiki Vandeweghe, who said McDyess "wasn't exactly happy in Denver,'' received a trade proposal from the Knicks late Tuesday night.

Wednesday morning, McDyess and his agent confirmed he would be opting out of his Denver contract after this season.

Referring to the Nuggets' loss of center Dikembe Mutombo without compensation in 1996, Vandeweghe said, "I wasn't going to let it happen again, not on my watch. We weren't going to lose McDyess for nothing.''

McDyess played in only 10 games last season because of knee injuries. Vandeweghe called him "a great person with loads of talent. He'll be absolutely phenomenal for New York. I have no doubt that he's healthy.''

The trade gives Denver a veteran point guard in Jackson, who is making his second appearance in a Nuggets uniform, and Camby, whom Vandeweghe called "a phenomenal young player basically in his prime. He hasn't been fully healthy, so he should be rested.''

Camby missed playing time last season with a blood clot on his hip.

"His health checks out fine,'' Vandeweghe said.

With the deal, Vandeweghe said, the Nuggets increased their salary cap space slightly.

NBA scouts considered Tskitishvili -- pronounced Skee-tish-vi-li -- one of the most promising athletic big men in the draft and an excellent shooter.

He played last season for Italian League champion Benetton Treviso, which was coached by former Nuggets assistant coach Mike D'Antoni.

In 11 games, he averaged 12.7 minutes, scoring 6.6 points with 1.8 rebounds. He shot 73 percent, including 40 percent from 3-point range, and he hit 83 percent of his free throws.

D'Antoni, now a Phoenix Suns assistant, praised Tskitishvili's skills but said he is not fully developed physically.

"His skills are off the chart,'' D'Antoni said. "He doesn't have a (fully developed) body. He's two or three years away. Hopefully, Denver will have some patience becauase he could be something special.''

Hilario was a dominant rebounder and shot-blocker for Vasco da Gama in the Brazilian League. He averaged 13.2 points, 10.0 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game last season.

Scouts expect him to contribute immediately on defense, although he is somewhat raw on offense.

Vandeweghe wouldn't speculate on when Tskitishvili and Hilario might begin making significant contributions.

"We hope they'll be good sooner rather than later,'' Vandeweghe said.