The Blazers sent short-tempered forward Rasheed Wallace and reserve guard Wesley Person to the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for forward Shareef Abdur-Rahim, center Theo Ratliff and little-used guard Dan Dickau on Monday.
“This trade helps the franchise in many ways,” Blazers president Steve Patterson said. “We get a younger core of players and can remain competitive in both the Western Conference and the league.”
Wallace, the team’s centerpiece for more than seven seasons, earned plenty of headlines for his bad behavior—including a seven-game suspension for threatening an official, an NBA-record 41 technical fouls in 2000-01 and a citation for marijuana possession last year.
“Another factor in the deal is that we are also acquiring three players of good character,” Patterson added.
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 cool-tempered Abdur-Rahim, averaging 20.1 points and 9.3 rebounds this season, and Ratliff will be welcome additions to a frontcourt that also features veteran big man Dale Davis and swingman Darius Miles—acquired in a trade with Cleveland on Jan. 21.
Portland’s newest acquisitions did not arrive in time as the short-handed Blazers lost 86-81 to Utah on Tuesday. The loss was just the second in nine games for the Blazers, who are in 10th place in the West.
“This is a time, I think, when we gather everybody together and work to become a family,” Cheeks said.
One of the teams Portland is chasing for one of the West’s final playoff berths is Denver, which snapped a two-game slide Monday with an 86-83 victory over Memphis.
It was the 30th win in 53 games for the Nuggets, the fastest they have reached 30 victories since doing it in 50 games during the 1987-88 season.
“Before the season started, everyone was hoping we would get to 30 for the whole season,” said rookie Carmelo Anthony, who had 20 points and 11 rebounds. “Now we have 30. Now all we want to do is make the playoffs. To come this far and not make the playoffs and do what we are doing would be very disappointing.”
The Nuggets may still be missing starting center and leading rebounder Marcus Camby, who sat out Monday’s win with a strained left hamstring.
STANDINGS (through Feb. 10): Nuggets - 4th place (tied), 7 GB, Midwest Division. Trail Blazers - 3rd place, 12 1/2 GB, Pacific Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Nuggets - Anthony, 19.2 ppg; Camby, 10.1 rpg; Miller, 6.3 apg. Trail Blazers - Randolph, 21.3 ppg and 11 rpg; Stoudamire, 6.1 apg.
SEASON SERIES: Nuggets, 2-0.
LAST MEETING: Feb. 2; Nuggets, 116-97. At Denver, Anthony scored a career-high 39 points, shooting 14-for-22 from the floor and 10-of-14 at the foul line.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Nuggets - 10-15 on the road; Trail Blazers - 16-9 at home.