YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Hawks Trade Willis and a No. 1 Pick to Miami : Pro basketball: Atlanta acquires Steve Smith, Grant Long and a second-round choice.

November 08, 1994|From Associated Press

The Atlanta Hawks traded one of the NBA's best power forwards Monday, sending Kevin Willis and a No. 1 draft pick to the Miami Heat for Steve Smith, Grant Long and a second-round draft choice.

"I'm on the way to Oakland, and I'll strap on a new uniform tomorrow night," Willis said by telephone from Salt Lake International Airport in Salt Lake City. "I'm glad (Miami partner) Billy Cunningham and (Coach Kevin) Loughery see that I'm a player we can use."

Atlanta has the choice of giving Miami its No. 1 pick in 1995 or 1996. If the 1996 pick is one of the first five, Atlanta can hold off for another year.

"Something in the back of my mind told me something was brewing," Willis said. "This afternoon it came through. It's a weird feeling. I said I could play ball anywhere. I have no hard feelings. We got an exciting team (in Miami)."

Willis was expected to be in uniform for Miami tonight at Golden State. Smith and Long were expected to play Wednesday night at Phoenix.

Willis, 32, averaged 19.1 points and 10.8 rebounds as an All-Star last season, helping the Hawks to a 57-25 record and the regular-season Eastern Conference title.

He held out briefly during training camp this fall, looking to have his contract renegotiated. Willis said the Heat agreed to restructure his deal, although he did not know the details.

"I know nobody in Atlanta will believe this, but this had nothing to do with Kevin holding out," Atlanta General Manager Pete Babcock said in Salt Lake City.

"This gives us a lot of flexibility in the backcourt, which we desperately needed. We needed an influx of offensive energy, and Steve can shoot from the perimeter."

Smith, 25, was a member of the U.S. world championship team-- also known as "Dream Team II"-- last summer. With the Heat last season, he averaged 17.3 points, 5.1 assists and 4.5 rebounds.

Long, 28, averaged 11.4 points and 7.2 rebounds as a power forward. He could take Willis' place in Atlanta's starting lineup.

"Grant Long gives us a solid frontcourt player and rebounder. He's got a toughness about him, he battles every night and he gets his points--11 or 12 a night," Babcock said.

Last week, Miami traded center Rony Seikaly to Golden State for small forward Billy Owens, a trade Smith criticized.

Willis figures to team with Owens and John Salley on Miami's starting front line.

Los Angeles Times Articles