Former Blazer finally finds a new home

When the New Jersey Nets decided they didn't want Shareef
Abdur-Rahim, the Sacramento Kings eagerly grabbed him.

The Kings signed Abdur-Rahim to a multiyear contract Friday,
three days after the Nets rescinded a trade with the Portland Trail
Blazers because of medical concerns about the nine-year veteran's
right knee.
The Kings, who bid for the free agent's services earlier in the
summer, wasted no time reasserting their interest. They quickly
closed a deal, locking up a 28-year-old power forward who has
racked up impressive statistics and made plenty of money, but never
reached the playoffs.
"The biggest thing for me was trying to get on a team that had
a chance to win and win big," Abdur-Rahim said. "That's what I
want to try and do for the rest of my career. The guys that are
already here are accustomed to winning and competing at a high
level. I'm looking forward to coming in and being a part of it.
It's a nice fit for me here."
Abdur-Rahim, who made more than $14 million last season in
Portland, took a pay cut to join the Kings, who have made the
postseason seven straight times and won 50 games in five straight
seasons. Because the Kings already are over the salary cap, he is
expected to be paid the NBA's midlevel exception, worth about $5
million next season.
Abdur-Rahim has averaged 19.9 points and 8.1 rebounds in a
career with Vancouver, Atlanta and Portland, but he doesn't want to
go down in league history as the archetypal good player on bad
teams. His playoff drought seems likely to end with the Kings, who
added him to a starting lineup that now could be one of the NBA's
But until early this week, he thought he would be playing
alongside Jason Kidd and Vince Carter in New Jersey.
"The only thing I can tell you is that I'm healthy,"
Abdur-Rahim said. "I guess [the Nets] did their physical and found
something that made them uncomfortable. I've never missed games or
practices because of my knees, so like I said, their concerns came
out of the blue to me."
Geoff Petrie, the Kings' president of basketball operations,
moved swiftly to complete the latest move in his yearlong makeover
of the franchise, which has parted ways with Chris Webber, Vlade
Divac, Doug Christie, Cuttino Mobley and Bobby Jackson since last
summer. With Abdur-Rahim in town, Maurice Evans and Darius Songaila
now are likely to leave as free agents.
Petrie said the Kings' medical staff shares none of the Nets'
concerns about Abdur-Rahim's knees. Abdur-Rahim missed 22 games
last season with an elbow injury -- the first time he missed more
than five games in an NBA season.
"We think he'll improve our team in areas where we wanted to
get better and give us dimensions on the [low] block," Petrie
said. "He has not only been a high-caliber player, but also a
high-caliber citizen."
Sacramento acquired high-scoring guard Bonzi Wells in a trade
with Memphis last week, and the Kings picked up guard Francisco
Garcia in the draft. Abdur-Rahim joins a projected starting lineup
with Wells, Mike Bibby -- Abdur-Rahim's former teammate in Vancouver
-- Peja Stojakovic and Brad Miller, along with Kenny Thomas, Corliss
Williamson, Brian Skinner and new signees Jason Hart and Jamal
Sampson on the bench.
"I think we've been able to add pieces that are going to fit
together well," coach Rick Adelman said. "The challenge this team
has is that so many new players have to come together quickly. In
talking with Shareef and the other players we have, we're all about
trying to win as a team. I'm excited this worked out."
While Abdur-Rahim visited his list of potential new teams in
recent weeks, he said the Kings were among his top two choices. His
wife is from the San Francisco Bay area, about 90 miles west, and
he played one collegiate season at California.
"Since college, I've always like this area," Abdur-Rahim said.
"I spent two or three years after college here in the offseason,
so if I have a second home other than Atlanta, it would be here."