Celtics, Timberwolves pull off multi-player trade

Updated: January 27, 2006, 2:44 PM ET
SportsTicker

BOSTON - Paul Pierce has a new sidekick.

The Boston Celtics on Thursday night acquired former All-Star forward Wally Szczerbiak in a seven-player trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Celtics also received underachieving center Michael Olowokandi and center Dwayne Jones in the deal while sending guards Ricky Davis, Marcus Banks, forward Justin Reed and center Mark Blount to the Timberwolves.

Boston also came away with a future protected first-round pick while sending two second-round selections to Minnesota.

Szczerbiak, 28, is the key to the deal for the Celtics (17-25), who are 11th in the Eastern Conference, three games behind Washington for the final playoff berth.

A pure shooter who should help relieve some of the scoring pressure on Pierce, the 6-7 Szczerbiak is averaging a career-high 20.1 points while shooting just under 50 percent from the floor in 40 games.

"We are ecstatic to acquire a player of Wally Szczerbiak's quality to complement Paul Pierce and our young talent base," Celtics executive of director of basketball operations Danny Ainge said. "In Wally we are receiving an All-Star player who is playoff tested and has been a winner on all levels."

Making $10 million this season, Szczerbiak is owed $36 million the next three years.

The sixth overall pick in 1999, Szczerbiak has career averages of 15.5 points and 4.4 rebounds in 438 games. He was an All-Star in 2002 after averaging 17.6 points.

In Olowokandi, the Celtics get a player that they will be able to clear off the salary cap after the season. The 7-footer is making $5.9 million in the final year of a three-year, $16.2 million deal that he signed with the Timberwolves in the summer of 2003.

The first overall pick by the Los Angeles Clippers in 1998, Olowokandi failed to average more than 6.5 points in his time in Minnesota. He is averaging just 6.0 points and 5.6 rebounds in 32 games this season.

In 460 career games, the 30-year-old Olowokandi has averaged 8.8 points and 7.2 rebounds.

Ainge also attempted to reshape the Celtics in the summer when the club was part of the largest trade in NBA history, a five-team deal that featured 13 players.

While Ainge is no stranger to big trades, the struggling Timberwolves also made an effort to improve their team around superstar forward Kevin Garnett.

Minnesota (19-21) is in third place in the Northwest Division, four games behind Denver but has lost three straight, including back-to-back defeats by a combined 44 points. Olowokandi and Szczerbiak had been rumored to be on the trading block.

"Through this trade, we've become a much more athletic team," said Timberwolves vice president of basketball operations Kevin McHale, who won three NBA titles with the Celtics as a player in the 1980s. "With Ricky Davis, we've added one of the more talented shooting guards in the NBA - both on the offensive and defensive ends of the court.

"Mark Blount is a big man who can score. He has the ability to play in the high post as well as the low post. With Banks and Reed, we've added a couple of younger players that have athletic ability."

McHale also admitted it was a difficult decision to trade Szczerbiak.

"It was a tough decision to trade Wally," McHale said. "He has been the ultimate professional and a very good player for us through the years."

The 6-7 Davis does bring more athleticism to the Timberwolves than Szczerbiak. He is averaging 19.7 points while shooting just over 46 percent from the floor in 42 games.

Davis, 26, is making $5.9 million this season and is owed more than $13 million over the final two years of his deal.

Joining his fifth team, Davis has career averages of 13.6 points and 3.4 rebounds in 465 games.

The 13th overall pick in 2003, the speedy Banks has seen his playing time reduced behind Delonte West this season. He suffered a stress fracture of the left tibia during training camp and is averaging 5.5 points and 1.8 assists in 18 games.

Banks, 24, is making $1.7 million in the final year of his original rookie contract.

A seven-year veteran, Blount is averaging a career-high 12.4 points and 4.2 rebounds in 39 games this season.

Blount, 30, does come to Minnesota with a hefty contract of his own. The 7-footer is making $5.5 million this season and is owed more than $27 million over the next four years.

A 2004 second-round pick, the 6-8 Reed is averaging 2.3 points in 32 games this season.

Rather than ending up on the Celtics' roster, Jones could wind up back in the D-League. The undrafted rookie who declared early for the NBA draft, has averaged 9.3 points and 11.3 rebounds for Florida in the D-League this season.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index

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