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Day of Movers, Shakers in NBA

Baron Davis goes to Warriors, Payton to Hawks and Walker back to Celtics before trade deadline. Lakers and Clippers stand pat.

February 25, 2005|Mike Bresnahan | Times Staff Writer

A tale of two high-profile point guards summed up the busiest day at NBA deadline trading since 1987.

Baron Davis got a return trip to his home state of California. Gary Payton only wished that were the case for him.

On a day when 29 players were moved via 10 trades, some players were happy Thursday and others were, well, Payton.

Davis went from the league's second-worst team, the New Orleans Hornets, to the Golden State Warriors, while Payton went in the other direction, from the Boston Celtics, who were somehow in first in the Atlantic Division despite a 27-28 record, to the Atlanta Hawks, who have the NBA's worst record.

Payton, a nine-time All-Star and one of the league's more mercurial personalities, is now with his fifth team in three seasons.

The trade sent Payton, Tom Gugliotta and Michael Stewart from Boston to Atlanta for Antoine Walker -- originally drafted by the Celtics in 1996 -- and a future first-round pick, although a decoder ring was not necessary to understand the statement issued by Hawk General Manager Billy Smith.

"This trade will give us the opportunity to continue to develop our nucleus of young players for the remainder of the year," Smith said.

Payton, 36, was not available for comment Thursday, although he could end up with the last laugh. If Payton refuses to report to the Hawks, he might be waived, leaving him free to sign with any team and perhaps giving him another opportunity to chase a championship ring.

Thursday might have been the busiest day of trading activity in 18 years, but it came and went without additions or subtractions by the Lakers and Clippers. Both teams will try to earn playoff berths with the rosters that have produced marginal records. The Lakers are eighth in the Western Conference, the Clippers 11th.

The Warriors and Sacramento Kings were the ones making news in the Pacific Division.

Davis, who went to UCLA and Santa Monica Crossroads High, took a slight jump in team skill level, moving from the Hornets to the Warriors, who are 16-38 but have younger players to build around. Davis has a bulky contract and a balky back, but he and Jason Richardson immediately form one of the league's better backcourts, if Davis' back can support it.

The Warriors acquired Davis, 25, for veteran center Dale Davis and point guard Speedy Claxton.

"We feel that he will be a tremendous addition to our roster, not only with what he brings to the table on his own, but also what he can provide to the continued development of our team," Chris Mullin, Warrior vice president of basketball operations, said of Davis.

On Wednesday, the Kings sent five-time All-Star forward Chris Webber and two other players to the Philadelphia 76ers for Kenny Thomas and two other forwards. The Kings, worthy adversaries of the Lakers in the 2000 and 2002 playoffs, basically began their reconstruction process eight months after the Lakers.

"I was like, 'Wow, the Sacramento Kings as we know it are over,' " Laker guard Kobe Bryant said, "from Vlade [Divac] here to [Doug] Christie in Orlando and Webber no longer being part of the Kings. But that's just part of life. You move on."

The Lakers didn't do much moving at all.

After two headline-caliber trades last summer, the only deal the Lakers made this season was sending Kareem Rush to the Charlotte Bobcats in December for second-round picks in 2005 and 2008. Rush has averaged 11.9 points since joining the Bobcats.

"There was nothing we felt that could substantially improve our team prior to the trade deadline," Laker General Manager Mitch Kupchak said. "We will be active during the summer via free agency and the draft to try to improve the team."

Earlier in the week, forward Devean George, one of two Lakers left from the three-championship run, talked like a guy on his way to Chicago. Or Orlando. Or wherever.

But after Thursday's deadline passed, George was still a Laker, his health problems enough of a concern for the handful of teams that inquired about him. George has yet to play a game this season because of an assortment of injuries stemming from ankle surgery last summer.

There were other trades of note around the league.

The 76ers completed a second deal in as many days, sending forward Glenn Robinson to New Orleans for Jamal Mashburn and Rodney Rogers. Robinson has not played this season because he has been pouting since losing his starting job in training camp, although officially he is on the injured list with what is listed as tendinitis in his left ankle. Mashburn has a knee injury and might never play again, but Rogers' soft touch could help the 76ers.

The New York Knicks acquired burly forward Malik Rose and two first-round draft picks from the San Antonio Spurs for center Nazr Mohammed and point guard Jamison Brewer. The Knicks also acquired veteran forward Maurice Taylor from the Houston Rockets for forward Vin Baker and guard Moochie Norris.

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