Walker to Miami from Boston highlights megadeal
MIAMI -- In the largest trade in NBA history, Antoine Walker was dealt from Boston to Miami on Tuesday night in a transaction involving five teams and 13 players.
The Heat also acquired point guard Jason Williams and small forward James Posey from Memphis, while the Grizzlies received guard Eddie Jones from the Heat. The New Orleans Hornets and Utah Jazz were also involved in the deal.
The trade was larger than a 12-player, four-team deal in 2000 involving Patrick Ewing that had been the biggest in league history.
Miami also received Andre Emmett from Memphis and the draft rights to Roberto Duenas of Spain from the Hornets; Utah received Greg Ostertag from Memphis; Boston picked up Curtis Borchardt from Utah and a package -- Qyntel Woods, the draft rights to Spanish center Albert Miralles, two second-round draft picks and cash -- from Miami; New Orleans acquired Rasual Butler from Miami and Kirk Snyder from Utah; and the Grizzlies received guard Raul Lopez from the Jazz.
Hours after signing Shaquille O'Neal to a five-year deal, the Heat added three significant pieces to a roster that nearly reached the NBA Finals last season.
"We traded a lot, but we got back three quality players," said Heat president Pat Riley. "Antoine Walker is one of the very best multi-faceted, versatile players in this game. ... He is able to handle the ball, pass it, make plays, shoot 3's and rebound the ball. There isn't anyone in this league better at doing that."
Walker, a three-time All-Star, figures to become the starting small forward and would be backed up by Posey, one of the league's better defenders.
Walker signed a six-year deal worth nearly $53 million with Boston as of the deal's preliminary framework, and agent Mark Bartelstein said he appreciated the Celtics' willingness to help out their longtime forward.
"Antoine is thrilled," Bartelstein said. "This was a grueling process trying to put a sign-and-trade together. This took a lot of time and work and energy from a lot of people."
Williams would take over as Miami's starting point guard if Damon Jones leaves as a free agent.
Jones exits Miami after five years with the Heat.
"I spoke to him and he's appreciative of the five great years he's had in Miami," agent Leon Rose said. "He's proud that he's helped build something, although it's unfortunate that he won't be able to see it to fruition. But he wishes the organization nothing but the best."
Riley wished the three players leaving Miami well, especially Jones, whom he called "the consummate professional through thick and thin."
"I know he had fun and he was a major part of this," Riley said. "But in order to get something good back, you have to give up something good going out. I wish him nothing but the best."
The Hornets did not give up any players under contract in the megatrade, which was approved by league officials late Tuesday night.
"Our cap flexibility is what allowed us to get these two players as part of this deal," Hornets general manager Allan Bristow said. "We were able to acquire two young, quality players while only giving up the rights to a player who has never appeared in a Hornets uniform."
Walker, who averaged 19.1 points and nine rebounds last season for Atlanta and Boston, will be a welcome addition to the Heat, said forward Udonis Haslem -- who formally signed his $30.7 million, five-year deal Tuesday.
"We're two different players and we can bring two different things to the table," Haslem said, a few hours before the trade got done. "If we put that together, we should have a pretty good tandem."
Miami reached Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals this past season -- even though O'Neal and Dwyane Wade were both hurt at the time. And not only was Jones a starter on that team, he was the Heat's best perimeter defender -- a role that Heat president Pat Riley and coach Stan Van Gundy have long valued.
Jones, a career 16.4-point-per-game scorer, averaged 12.7 in the regular season and 13.7 in the playoffs as Miami's third option.
"Eddie Jones is an All-Star caliber player who has had a terrific NBA career. He is a great 3-point shooter who will make an immediate impact on our offense, while also serving as a solid defender in the backcourt. We look forward to Eddie finishing his NBA career in Memphis," Grizzlies president Jerry West said.
"He is a very athletic, quick, explosive scorer and has great experience," Riley said. "One of the reasons why we are making the trade is that we haven't had anyone here like that since Tim Hardaway left."
Posey was limited to 50 games this past season because of injuries, and only 18 starts. He averaged 8.1 points and 4.4 rebounds.
The trade capped a flurry of activity by the Heat -- who moved quickly once the league's moratorium on player signings expired Tuesday at noon ET.
O'Neal was signed to a $100 million contract; the move was expected, although the contract was considerably smaller than what O'Neal figured to command.
Haslem said the team has full confidence in whatever personnel choices Riley and general manager Randy Pfund make.
"Since I've been here, they've made great decisions," Haslem said. "And I'm sure they'll make the right decision here."
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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