In a flurry of activity at the NBA trading deadline, Dikembe Mutombo, Juwan Howard, Mark Jackson, Chris Childs and Christian Laettner were among 22 players changing teams Thursday in four separate trades.
The deals affected some of the league's best teams, including the Philadelphia 76ers, and some of its worst, including the Washington Wizards.
Mutombo, the NBA's leading rebounder, went from Atlanta to Philadelphia along with Roshown McLeod in exchange for Theo Ratliff, Toni Kukoc, Nazr Mohammed and Pepe Sanchez.
The move by the 76ers is a clear sign they are making an all-out run for the NBA title. If they make it to the finals, the 7-foot-2 Mutombo would match up well against centers for the Western Conference's elite teams--the Lakers' Shaquille O'Neal, San Antonio's David Robinson, Portland's Arvydas Sabonis and Sacramento's Vlade Divac.
"I'm going to Philadelphia to play with a great player, Allen Iverson, a scoring machine who plays with tremendous energy," Mutombo said in a statement read by Philadelphia Coach Larry Brown. "The opportunity to win a championship is certainly there."
With his team already owning the NBA's best record, Brown said the trade would fill the short-term hole left by an injured Ratliff, who had wrist surgery Wednesday and could be out two to four weeks--or longer.
Mutombo might join the team tonight in Detroit.
Brown said he wasn't concerned about altering the team's chemistry this late in the season, noting that Mutombo's easygoing nature should help him fit in easily.
"We have to make sure when we add pieces to this team, they're quality guys, they're character guys. It's obvious this guy is that," Brown said. "He's a quality human being and that's what this team needs."
Howard was sent from Washington to Dallas in an eight-player deal. The Wizards also gave up Calvin Booth and Obinna Ekezie for Laettner, Courtney Alexander, Loy Vaught, Hubert Davis, Etan Thomas and $3 million.
Michael Jordan, the Wizards' president of basketball operations, had been working frantically to trade one of the three veterans--Howard, Rod Strickland or Mitch Richmond--whose huge salaries and long-term contracts were paralyzing the Wizards' ability to acquire major free agents. Howard has two full seasons remaining on his contract and will earn about $40 million over that span.
"Sure, everyone said Juwan was an untradable situation, but you never know," Jordan said.
Jackson and Muggsy Bogues were traded from Toronto to New York for Childs and a No. 1 draft pick. Toronto also picked up Jerome Williams and Eric Montross from Detroit for Corliss Williamson, Kornel David, Tyrone Corbin and a future No. 1 pick.
Jackson spent his first five seasons with the Knicks and won the rookie of the year award in 1987-88. He later became a New York nemesis, spending six seasons with the Indiana Pacers and helped eliminate the Knicks in last season's Eastern Conference finals.
"It's really coming full circle for him," Knick general manager Scott Layden said. "We're excited about bringing him back home."
Phoenix forward Cliff Robinson pleaded innocent to charges of driving under the influence of alcohol and two traffic offenses.
Robinson was arrested early Feb. 5 when a Scottsdale, Ariz., police officer spotted his 2001 Porsche moving erratically.
An attorney entered the pleas on Robinson's behalf in Scottsdale Municipal Court. Robinson is with the Suns on a four-game trip that concludes tonight in New York.
Also, a hearing for Sun guard Jason Kidd on a misdemeanor assault charge, scheduled for Thursday, was continued until March 20 in Paradise Valley Municipal Court. Kidd is accused of striking his wife, Joumana, during an argument at their home on Jan. 18.
Indiana guard Reggie Miller was fined $5,000 by the NBA for making an obscene gesture in the fourth quarter of the Pacers' 110-109 victory over the Lakers last Sunday at Indianapolis. . . . Chucky Brown, a journeyman forward who has played with 11 different teams, was signed for the remainder of the season by Cleveland.
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Trades made before Thursday's 3 p.m. PST deadline:
* Philadelphia-Atlanta: 76ers acquired center Dikembe Mutombo and forward Roshown McLeod from the Hawks for centers Theo Ratliff and Nazr Mohammed, forward Toni Kukoc and guard Pepe Sanchez.
* New York-Toronto: Knicks acquired guards Mark Jackson and Muggsy Bogues from the Raptors for guard Chris Childs and a 2001 first-round draft pick.
* Toronto-Detroit: Raptors acquired forward Jerome Williams and center Eric Montross from the Pistons for forwards Corliss Williamson, Tyrone Corbin and Kornel David and a future first- round draft pick or two second-round picks.
* Dallas-Washington: Mavericks acquired forwards Juwan Howard and Obinna Ekezie and center Calvin Booth from the Wizards for forwards Christian Laettner, Etan Thomas and Loy Vaught and guards Hubert Davis and Courtney Alexander.