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Nets getting closer to getting Shareef Abdur-Rahim
Nets getting closer to getting Shareef Abdur-Rahim
Nets getting closer to Abdur-Rahim
Saturday, July 24, 2004
BY BRAD PARKS
The Nets and Trailblazers appear to be moving ever closer to a deal that will bring Shareef Abdur-Rahim to the Nets.
And if Abdur-Rahim's agent, Aaron Goodwin, has his way, it'll be done before the weekend is through.
"I'm pushing as hard as I can," Goodwin said. "Shareef is pushing as hard as he can. I just got off the phone with him and he's hoping it's going to be sooner rather than later."
The hold up at this point seems to be on the Blazers' end. General manager John Nash is pushing for a better deal from the Nets - he has already rejected the package of Kerry Kittles and Aaron Williams, and seems to want one of the better draft picks the Nets got off of Denver in the Kenyon Martin trade.
"It's just a matter of getting Portland to do the deal," Goodwin said. "We're trying. It's not for lack of effort on everyone's part. There have been a lot of conversations and they're ongoing, it just hasn't resulted in a trade yet. I'm confident they're headed in the right direction."
Nets general manager Ed Stefanski is in Salt Lake City and a team executive indicated he's got CEO Rod Thorn's blessing to strike a deal with Nash, a longtime friend of Stefanski's.
There is certainly impetus for both sides: The Nets desperately need a power forward after Martin's departure; and Abdur-Rahim, frustrated over a lack of playing time in Portland after getting traded there from Atlanta in the middle of last season, has informed Nash he won't report to camp for the Blazers in the fall. "I'm surprised (the trade) hasn't happen yet," Goodwin said. "I'm hoping it will happen over the weekend."
NOTE: The Nets officially announced the hiring of assistant coach John Kuester, who had already worked with the summer league team in Orlando. Kusters, a North Carolina graduate, had been part of Larry Brown's staff but switched to the Nets to be closer to his family in Philadelphia. The Nets still have one more assistant coaching position, and will probably hire former Bull Bill Cartwright.
The Nets will have to look elsewhere for a new power forward now that the possibility of a Shareef Abdur-Rahim trade appears all but dead.
Three league sources said yesterday the Portland Trail Blazers are on the verge of signing restricted free agent guard Trenton Hassell. Unless Minnesota matches what is believed to be a six-year, $27 million deal, the Blazers will have filled their need at guard. The Nets were hoping to deal Kerry Kittles, Aaron Williams and perhaps a No.1 pick for Abdur-Rahim. "I think it's dead," one person with knowledge of the Nets-Blazers talks said.Another source close to the situation said the Blazers were never close to making a deal with the Nets. Portland GM John Nash wasn't enamored with what the Nets were offering despite needing a guard and backup center. Abdur-Rahim wants to be traded and the Nets were hoping to replace the recently departed Kenyon Martin with the former All-Star forward.
Blazer demands a trade
Shareef Abdur-Rahim wants a meeting with team officials and threatens not to play
Tuesday, July 27, 2004
Trail Blazers forward Shareef Abdur-Rahim, despondent over the Blazers' rejection of a trade that could have sent him to the New Jersey Nets, told The Oregonian on Monday that he wants a meeting with Blazers management to emphasize that he will not report to training camp unless he is traded.
"I hope it doesn't come to (a holdout), but if it does, it does," Abdur-Rahim said. "I don't want that to happen; it's not me and I don't think it's indicative of who I am. But at the same time, when I left Portland after the season, I was put under the impression of one thing (being traded), and now it has changed."
Agent Aaron Goodwin said Abdur-Rahim might go straight to the top of the Blazers' hierarchy -- owner Paul Allen -- because Goodwin's sources are telling him that the Blazers are saying Allen was the one who vetoed a recent trade proposal to New Jersey.
"Paul needs to understand that Shareef is not coming back there," Goodwin said. "It's getting to the point where it's ridiculous. I guess they don't see it as a problem, and I guess at some point they think that Shareef is going to say, 'Forget it, I'll play (small forward) for them.' But that is not the case. Portland, for whatever reason, is holding Shareef hostage and it's unfortunate."
Abdur-Rahim said he left a postseason meeting with general manager John Nash and coach Maurice Cheeks with the impression that he would be traded. Now, however, he said Nash and Cheeks are telling him that he will be the team's starting small forward, while backing up Zach Randolph at power forward.
Abdur-Rahim said this new strategy puzzles him because he doesn't play small forward and everyone on the team knows that Darius Miles is best suited for that position.
"My problem with that is if you started Darius at small forward all of last year -- and Darius is supposed to be a big part of the Blazers' future -- and now I'm going to start there?" Abdur-Rahim said. "That's creating a crazy situation. What is Darius supposed to think about that? And for the team? That's not good. I don't want to be in a situation where it's uncomfortable.
"And last season, I didn't even split time at the four, and now all of a sudden you want to start me at the three and have me back up at the four? I just want to know what is really going on. Are they trying to keep me to save luxury tax dollars the next season, or what? I just want to sit down and get some straight talk."
The crux of the dispute is that Abdur-Rahim, 27, thinks he is still in his prime and should play extensive minutes at his natural, power forward position. Blazers officials indicate he is not better than Randolph, a blossoming power forward who won the NBA's Most Improved Player Award, and thus should be his backup.
The Blazers' solution is to play Abdur-Rahim for about 24 minutes a game at small forward, and 12 minutes at power forward when Randolph rests. Abdur-Rahim's solution is that he should be traded to a team where he can start at power forward.
That could have become reality last week, but Goodwin said the Blazers turned down a proposed trade from New Jersey that would have sent shooting guard Kerry Kittles, shooting guard Lucious Harris, power forward Aaron Williams and a first-round pick to Portland for Abdur-Rahim.
"They just tossed it aside," Goodwin said of the Blazers. "It wasn't like it was a team that didn't have a good deal on the table; this was an excellent deal on the table and it could have solved a problem."
Nash would not comment on whether the Nets proposed that trade, and he said he is not concerned with Abdur-Rahim's threat to hold out of training camp in October if he is not traded, saying that he will be fined accordingly, with the amount increasing each day.
Abdur-Rahim, who is set to make $14.6 million next season, said he is prepared to absorb as many fines as it takes.
"It's not a good situation," Goodwin said. "For them to try and mold him into a (small forward) when he is proven to be one of the more dominant (power forwards) in the league is wrong.
"So he has two options: to continue to allow his spiral in Portland; or he takes a stance to get out of Portland. Right now, he is choosing to take a stance."
Cheeks on Monday said he has spoken recently with Abdur-Rahim, a conversation in which he told Abdur-Rahim that if he is indeed on the Blazers' roster next season, the majority of his playing time would be at small forward.
"For us, we certainly can't move Zach out of his position, so we have to find a place for Shareef, and that is (small forward)," Cheeks said. "When I told him that, he said he doesn't want to play a three; that was his reaction."
Nash said he thinks Abdur-Rahim, who averaged 22.8 minutes in 32 games with the Blazers last season, can play 30 minutes a game next season with Portland.
"What we would envision is Shareef playing in a three-forward rotation, with Zach, Darius and Shareef getting the lion's share of minutes. I would see him playing significantly more than he played for us last year. He is a terrific player, and if he is on our roster, he should be on the floor."
Nash said he hasn't ruled out trading Abdur-Rahim, but at the moment, no team has made a desirable offer.
"I continue to talk to every team in the league," Nash said. "But I know what is available and what is not. Perhaps what is not available now may later become available. We couldn't have made the (Rasheed Wallace trade) last summer, last fall, or even last December. It didn't become available until February. We have made teams aware of what we would do, and in many cases, we have been rejected."
Abdur-Rahim, however, said he can't handle another season of swallowing his pride and watching from the bench. He said his career averages (20.1 points, 8.2 rebounds) are too stellar, and his age (27) young enough to be a pawn in the Blazers' money-saving scheme.
"Don't put me back in the same position as last season. I did it for half the season last year because it wasn't the time to discuss it," Abdur-Rahim said. "I'm not trying to be a distraction, but you can't tell me I'm going to start at the three when you have another kid here who has proven himself.
"The only point I'm trying to make is, don't take the (professional) way I handle things as a weakness that can be taken advantage of. I've said this to John and I've said it to Maurice: Find a different situation for me.
"And if I have to sit out and do whatever I have to do, then I will do it. I don't want to, but I will."