Blazers Send Strickland, Grant to Bullets for Wallace, ButlerLANDON HALL , Associated Press
Jul. 16, 1996 3:12 AM ET
PORTLAND, ORE. PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) _ Trading experience for youth, the Portland Trail Blazers have sent talented but unhappy point guard Rod Strickland to the Washington Bullets for promising young center-forward Rasheed Wallace.
The trade announced Monday also brings Washington's Mitchell Butler to Portland in exchange for Harvey Grant.
Strickland's long-standing personality dispute with coach P.J. Carlesimo came to a head last season with Strickland walking out for six games. He returned and helped the Blazers reach the playoffs, but Strickland made it clear he no longer wanted to play for Portland.
The Blazers will now try to find a way to replace the 18.7 points and 9.6 assists Strickland averaged in 67 games last season.
``Rod's a talented player and we'll be weak at this position until we do something,'' Blazers president and general manager Bob Whitsitt said.
The trade gives Portland more than $4 million in salary cap room to sign a free agent.
Wallace, a 6-foot-10 former North Carolina player selected fourth overall in the 1995 draft, averaged 10.1 points and 4.7 rebounds in 65 games.
``To get a quality player like that is very, very important,'' Whitsitt said.
Grant averaged 9.3 points as a backup small forward last season, and Butler averaged 3.9 points as a backup guard.
Strickland, an eight-year veteran, wanted out of Portland since he and Carlesimo had a feud during camp prior to the 1994-95 season. His walkout came after the Blazers let the trade deadline slip by without trading him.
Rumeal Robinson replaced Strickland during the walkout, averaging 15.3 points and 7.7 assists during the six games.
Strickland, who played four seasons for the Blazers, has averaged 14.3 points, 7.5 assists and 3.9 rebounds in his career with New York, San Antonio and Portland.
Whitsitt said Wallace's enthusiasm will be welcome in Portland.
``He's energetic. He's excitable. I don't see that as a negative,'' Whitsitt said. ``It's pretty hard to get a high lottery pick nowadays without being high up in the lottery.''
The Blazers (44-38 last season) appear to be focusing on young players.
The team decided last month not to exercise their option to keep Buck Williams, the 36-year-old power forward who was the last remaining player from the starting lineup of the Portland teams that made it to the NBA Finals in 1990 and 1992.
Portland drafted 17-year-old Jermaine O'Neal with the 17th pick in the first round of this year's NBA draft.
The Bullets (39-43 last season) haven't had a winning record for nine years, but they improved their record by 18 wins last year. Washington will try to take advantage of Strickland's considerable play-making skills next year.
``Strickland is an outstanding point guard who is one of the league's best perimeter shooters,'' Bullets head coach Jim Lynam said. ``He's the type of player who makes his teammates better, because of his ability to penetrate the defense and create.''
Grant returns to the Bullets after playing the last three seasons for Portland. The twin brother of Orlando's Horace Grant averaged 9.3 points and 4.8 rebounds in 76 games for the Blazers. Harvey Grant was drafted by Washington and played his first five seasons with the Bullets.
Lynam called Grant ``a versatile wing player who has shown to be equally effective defending both the big guards and the small forwards.''
``I coached Harvey for five seasons,'' Bullets general manager Wes Unseld said. ``His versatility and his strong defense will make him a solid addition to this team.''