Work in Sports
Getting it done
Four-team blockbuster finally realized
NEW YORK (AP) -- Patrick Ewing's 15-year career with the Knicks ended Wednesday night when New York sent him to Seattle in a four-team, 12-player trade also involving the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix.
The Knicks sent Ewing to the SuperSonics and received Glen Rice from the Lakers and Luc Longley from the Suns. Among the other major players moving were Horace Grant from Seattle to Los Angeles and Chris Dudley from New York to Phoenix.
"It became clear that he was looking for a change, and when he requested a trade, we respected his request," Knicks general manager Scott Layden said.
"It was important in doing so, however, that we had the ability to add value, and we believe we have done that."
Various trades involving Ewing and Rice have been in the works for the past month, including one involving Detroit that fell apart at the last moment in mid-August.
Once the Suns entered the picture, the talks heated up again.
Several other players were included in the trade to make it work under league salary-cap guidelines. The Knicks got Vernon Maxwell, Vladimir Stepania and Lazaro Borrell from Seattle and Travis Knight from Los Angeles.
New York also got first-round draft picks in 2001 from the Lakers and Sonics, and two second-round picks in 2001 from Seattle.
"Getting Patrick accomplishes a big offseason goal of ours," said Sonics general manager Wally Walker, adding that 48 trade scenarios were discussed between the Sonics, Knicks and Lakers. "Until we got on the conference call with the league this afternoon, I had no confidence that the deal would get done."
Rice, a free agent, received a one-year offer from the Chicago Bulls this week. But he wavered on signing it as his agent, David Falk, tried to broker another deal, and the Bulls finally pulled the offer off the table Wednesday afternoon.
Rice ended up with the Knicks as part of a sign-and-trade transaction in which he got a multiyear contract from the Lakers before being shipped immediately to New York.
The trade brings a close to Ewing's career in New York, where he arrived as the No. 1 pick in the 1985 draft. He was expected to be the type of franchise player who could bring the Knicks their first championship since 1973, but it never happened.
Now, the Sonics have a center who can help them compete with the better teams in the Western Conference.
"I think Patrick's going to come and add us something that we needed. We needed someone to cope with the Rasheed Wallaces and the Shaquille O'Neals," Seattle's Gary Payton said. "We hope this is going to help Vin come back to the player he wants to be. I know Patrick's going to help our scoring, and it should open up things for me because a lot of people are young to be worried about doubling Patrick."
Ewing's only appearance in the NBA Finals came in 1994 when the Knicks lost to Houston in seven games. The Knicks made it back to the finals in 1999, but Ewing was injured and did not play.
"Patrick is one the hardest working, most loyal players I have ever been around," New York coach Jeff Van Gundy said.
"I have told him more than once that he is a champion even if he hasn't won a championship. He practiced and played like a champion every day he was here. Seattle is fortunate to get a player of his talent and character."
Ewing has one year remaining on a four-year, $60 million contract and has said he would like to play two more years beyond this upcoming season. The Knicks expressed no interest in giving Ewing an extension, and they started exploring the possibility of trading him earlier this summer.
Ewing has a no-trade clause in his contract, but said he would waive it if he was traded to a team of his liking. He met with Walker in August when the first four-team trade was discussed.
"There were many times we thought the deal was completely dead, but it got resurrected and here we are," Walker said. "We feel great about it. The trade is not without risk, given Patrick's age and injury history. But he's still one of the top half-dozen players in game.
"If it doesn't work out, we'll have some cap flexibility next summer."
With the Sonics, Ewing will take over the starting spot at center that was manned by Grant and Vin Baker.
The NBA champion Lakers, who were on the verge of losing Rice on the free-agent market and getting nothing in return, come out looking like the big winners. Grant fills their void at power forward, while Rick Fox will presumably replace Rice in the starting lineup
The Knicks received six players and four draft picks for a 38-year-old center with bad knees and a surgically repaired wrist. But they no longer have a top caliber center, and they have a glut at small forward and shooting guard with Rice, Allan Houston, Latrell Sprewell, Erick Strickland and Maxwell.
"Obviously in losing Patrick you lose one of the most dominant centers to ever play," said Allan Houston of the Knicks. "Hopefully he's happy personally with it."
The trade was only the second four-team deal in NBA history, and Walker said a five-team deal was discussed at one point.
"I don't think most people know how complex four- and five-team deals are, and how many moving parts are involved," Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said.
"A lot of things happened this summer you can't explain -- deals
falling apart, players we thought we had commitments from. This
deal made sense. I really felt if it didn't happen, it would be a
shame. I'm relieved."