Abdur-Rahim among Hawks traded

ATLANTA -- The Portland Trail Blazers' problems off the
court are well documented, and no one symbolized what was wrong
with the franchise more than bad boy Rasheed Wallace.

So the Trail Blazers finally did something about it.

Portland sent the volatile forward and reserve Wesley Person to
the Atlanta Hawks late Monday night for Shareef Abdur-Rahim and two
other players.

"This trade helps the franchise in many ways," Trail Blazers
president Steve Patterson said. "We get a younger core of players
and can remain competitive in both the Western Conference and the

"Another factor in the deal is that we are also acquiring three
players of good character."

The same probably can't be said of Wallace. He drew the ire of
NBA commissioner David Stern this season when he told The Oregonian
newspaper that the league's white establishment is exploiting young
black athletes to enrich itself. Wallace later issued an apology.

Last season, he was suspended by the league for seven games for
threatening an official on the loading dock at the Rose Garden
Arena after a game. It was the longest suspension ever handed down
by the NBA that did not involve physical contact or substance

In the 2000-01 season, Wallace set the NBA record with 41
technical fouls. He is set to earn $17 million in the final year of
his contract, and already indicated that he did not want to re-sign
with Portland.

"What you do in this situation is very clear, you start with a
clean slate," Hawks general manager Billy Knight said. "You judge
people on the way they are with you. I'm not going to go on what
someone else said."

The announcement of the trade came about 90 minutes after the
Hawks beat the Dallas Mavericks 102-96. Abdur-Rahim had 27 points
and 10 rebounds in the victory, and is averaging 20.7 points and
8.4 rebounds this season.

Stephen Jackson had 11 of his career-high 30 points during an
early fourth-quarter rally for the Hawks, who improved to 8-7 over
their past 15 games. They've won three of four, including a victory
over the Minnesota Timberwolves, another top team from the Western

But Knight still wasn't convinced the team was headed in the
right direction.

"I didn't think we could continue to do that for the rest of this year," Knight said. "What this does is accelerate the
process of rebuilding. This was a deal that gets us financially
healthy and makes us a player in the free-agent market."

Abdur-Rahim goes to the Trail Blazers along with center Theo Ratliff and little-used point guard Dan Dickau, a first-round pick
of the Sacramento Kings in 2002, who was traded to the Hawks on
draft day. Ratliff is averaging 8.3 points and 7.2 rebounds, and
Dickau is averaging 2.1 points.

Abdur-Rahim is owed $28.1 million, and Ratliff gets $21 million
over the next two seasons.

"I can't explain enough how tough a trade it was for me
personally, because of Shareef," Knight said. "He's a class guy
and the consummate professional.

"It's just unfortunate that he's got the highest salary on this
team and he's the best player on the team. In order to do anything,
he's the first guy everybody talked about."

The contracts for Wallace and Person end after this season,
clearing up salary cap room for the Hawks. They are right at the
luxury tax threshold. Person makes $7.7 million in the final year
of his contract.

Person, a guard, averages 6.1 points and 1.9 rebounds. The
Blazers acquired him and a conditional 2004 draft pick from the
Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for guard Bonzi Wells earlier this

Patterson called Monday a "watershed day for the Trail Blazers,
because for the last eight years, this team has been associated
basically with Rasheed and Bonzi as the face of the franchise, and
it indicates we are moving into a new era."

The Blazers have won seven of their last eight games and are
tied for ninth in the Western Conference with Utah, four games
behind Denver for the final playoff spot.