Payton's new place
Sonics' Payton traded for Bucks' Allen at deadlinePosted: Thursday February 20, 2003 5:10 PM
Updated: Friday February 21, 2003 1:58 AM
The Sonics also received guards Kevin Ollie and Ronald Murray and a conditional first-round draft pick.
The trade ended Payton's career in Seattle after 12 1/2 seasons and reunited him with coach George Karl.
Milwaukee plays at Seattle on Friday night, but Sonics general manager Rick Sund said that neither Payton nor the four others in the trade would play.
Payton's contract expires after this season, and the Sonics risked losing the nine-time All-Star guard over the summer on the free agent market with nothing in return.
Instead, they acquired one of the purest shooters in the game.
Allen, a six-year veteran and three-time All-Star, has spent his entire career with the Bucks. A gold medalist for the United States at the Sydney Olympics, he also will be a member of the 2004 Olympic men's basketball team.
"We hate trading a player of Ray's caliber and character. He's done a lot for the city of Milwaukee, but everybody gets traded at some point in this league," Bucks general manager Ernie Grunfeld said. "We got two outstanding players for him."
The trade creates a logjam at point guard for the Bucks while causing the opposite problem for the SuperSonics.
"Quite frankly, I'm surprised any deals were made," Atlanta Hawks general manager Pete Babcock said.
The Hawks were expected to be one of the most active teams before the deadline, but 3 p.m. passed without any of their best players -- Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Jason Terry, Theo Ratliff and Glenn Robinson -- being traded.
"The tax had added another layer of issues you have to work through," Babcock said. "You rarely see a trade just talent-for-talent."
Many owners told their basketball executives they would not take on added payroll commitments, especially if it would put them over the expected luxury tax threshold of $52-53 million. Teams with payrolls higher than that amount will have to pay a dollar-for-dollar tax on the overage.
"It's very, very hard to make deals today for a number of reasons. One being the luxury tax," Chicago Bulls general manager Jerry Krause said. "It used to be you'd talk about basketball players and now you talk about budgets. A guy used to say, 'I'll get out the roster.' Now a guy says, 'I'll get out the budget printout.'"
Karl was Payton's coach in Seattle when the SuperSonics lost to the Chicago Bulls in the 1996 NBA Finals. Payton's arrival presumably will force Bucks starter Sam Cassell into a backup role, with sharpshooter Michael Redd taking over Allen's old spot at shooting guard.
An NBA spokesman denied a report that the Bucks and Knicks had requested an extension of the trade deadline to finalize a deal sending Cassell and another player to New York for Latrell Sprewell. Grunfeld and a Knicks spokesman also said there was no validity to the report.
Milwaukee has struggled for a season and a half after coming within one game of reaching the NBA Finals in 2001. The Bucks are 27-26 -- seventh-best in the Eastern Conference.
As the afternoon trade deadline drew near, the Indiana Pacers were said to be on the verge of acquiring Payton in a three-way deal. But Pacers general manager Donnie Walsh said the sides were "not close at all."
Although it was not a huge surprise for the Sonics to trade Payton, it was much more shocking to see the Bucks give up Allen -- their leading scorer with a 21.3-point average.
"To be a part of Gary Payton leaving the city of Seattle is one of the most difficult things I've ever had to encounter," Sonics coach Nate McMillan told a news conference.
"It's hard for me to show the excitement because I'm losing not only the players but also a very close friend," said McMillan, who played eight seasons with Payton before retiring in 1998.
Bucks general manager Ernie Grunfeld's asking price for Allen was high, and he got the Sonics to include one of their most promising youngsters -- Mason. The 25-year-old former slam dunk champion was Seattle's best reserve, averaging 14.1 points and 7.0 rebounds.
"It was an All-Star point guard for an All-Star two-guard. Both players are great," Nets vice president Rod Thorn commented. "Gary was in the last year with Seattle. They felt they got a quality player in Ray. That's a trade that could be real good for both teams."
If the Bucks don't give the starting shooting guard spot to Redd, it could go to Mason.
The trade apparently will leave Ollie as Seattle's starter at point guard. A career backup, he was averaging 5.7 points and 3.4 assists behind Cassell.
Payton was averaging 20.8 points and 8.8 assists for the SuperSonics, who have dropped out of the playoff race in the Western Conference after a promising start to the season. At 34, Payton was a decade older than most of the players on Seattle's roster.
"He likes playing for George," said Payton's agent, Aaron Goodwin.
The draft pick going to Seattle will be the lower of Milwaukee's own pick or Atlanta's, which was acquired by the Bucks in the Glenn Robinson deal. If lottery protection provisions leave the Bucks with only one first-round pick, they will send the Sonics a pair of second-round picks -- their own, and Memphis' pick.