Abdur-Rahim among Hawks traded

Updated: February 12, 2004, 7:48 AM ET
Associated Press

ATLANTA -- The Portland Trail Blazers' problems off the court are well documented, and no one symbolized what was wrong with the franchise more than bad boy Rasheed Wallace.

So the Trail Blazers finally did something about it.

Shareef Abdur-Rahim

Rasheed Wallace

Portland sent the volatile forward and reserve Wesley Person to the Atlanta Hawks late Monday night for Shareef Abdur-Rahim and two other players.

"This trade helps the franchise in many ways," Trail Blazers president Steve Patterson said. "We get a younger core of players and can remain competitive in both the Western Conference and the league.

"Another factor in the deal is that we are also acquiring three players of good character."

The same probably can't be said of Wallace. He drew the ire of NBA commissioner David Stern this season when he told The Oregonian newspaper that the league's white establishment is exploiting young black athletes to enrich itself. Wallace later issued an apology.

Last season, he was suspended by the league for seven games for threatening an official on the loading dock at the Rose Garden Arena after a game. It was the longest suspension ever handed down by the NBA that did not involve physical contact or substance abuse.

In the 2000-01 season, Wallace set the NBA record with 41 technical fouls. He is set to earn $17 million in the final year of his contract, and already indicated that he did not want to re-sign with Portland.

"What you do in this situation is very clear, you start with a clean slate," Hawks general manager Billy Knight said. "You judge people on the way they are with you. I'm not going to go on what someone else said."

The announcement of the trade came about 90 minutes after the Hawks beat the Dallas Mavericks 102-96. Abdur-Rahim had 27 points and 10 rebounds in the victory, and is averaging 20.7 points and 8.4 rebounds this season.

Stephen Jackson had 11 of his career-high 30 points during an early fourth-quarter rally for the Hawks, who improved to 8-7 over their past 15 games. They've won three of four, including a victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves, another top team from the Western Conference.

Fantasy Spin
The biggest winner in the real-life trade that sent Rasheed, Shareef and Theo packing? It's really not any of them. It's Nazr Mohammed, who hasn't received a whole lot of playing time this season, but now figures to start at center for the Hawks. Mohammed isn't the same player as Ratliff; only once in his career has he played a full season, and in that year he averaged 9.7 points and eight rebounds. Mohammed should be able to start doing that right away, which makes him somewhat attractive in fantasy leagues. Sure, he's not a shot blocker, has a long history of injuries and is a poor free-throw shooter. But consider he's owned in only 5 percent of ESPN FBA leagues -- and that number is up 4 percent since the trade occurred -- and he's a better option than a number of centers owned in more leagues (Brendan Haywood, Chris Mihm, Chris Kaman and the injured Keon Clark and Raef LaFrentz). As for the players in the trade, it's possible Wallace could see a small spike in his numbers now that he doesn't have to share the frontcourt with Zach Randolph, but who knows where Rasheed's motivation is these days.
— Eric Karabell
But Knight still wasn't convinced the team was headed in the right direction.

"I didn't think we could continue to do that for the rest of this year," Knight said. "What this does is accelerate the process of rebuilding. This was a deal that gets us financially healthy and makes us a player in the free-agent market."

Abdur-Rahim goes to the Trail Blazers along with center Theo Ratliff and little-used point guard Dan Dickau, a first-round pick of the Sacramento Kings in 2002, who was traded to the Hawks on draft day. Ratliff is averaging 8.3 points and 7.2 rebounds, and Dickau is averaging 2.1 points.

Abdur-Rahim is owed $28.1 million, and Ratliff gets $21 million over the next two seasons.

"I can't explain enough how tough a trade it was for me personally, because of Shareef," Knight said. "He's a class guy and the consummate professional.

"It's just unfortunate that he's got the highest salary on this team and he's the best player on the team. In order to do anything, he's the first guy everybody talked about."

The contracts for Wallace and Person end after this season, clearing up salary cap room for the Hawks. They are right at the luxury tax threshold. Person makes $7.7 million in the final year of his contract.

Person, a guard, averages 6.1 points and 1.9 rebounds. The Blazers acquired him and a conditional 2004 draft pick from the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for guard Bonzi Wells earlier this season.

Patterson called Monday a "watershed day for the Trail Blazers, because for the last eight years, this team has been associated basically with Rasheed and Bonzi as the face of the franchise, and it indicates we are moving into a new era."

The Blazers have won seven of their last eight games and are tied for ninth in the Western Conference with Utah, four games behind Denver for the final playoff spot.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press