Spurs send Barry, Elson and pick to Sonics for Thomas

SAN ANTONIO -- The San Antonio Spurs acquired veteran forward Kurt Thomas from the Seattle SuperSonics on Wednesday night for guard Brent Barry, center Francisco Elson and a 2009 first-round draft pick.

The 6-foot-9 Thomas, in his 13th NBA season, gives the defending NBA champions much-needed size to complement Tim Duncan. In 42 games with the SuperSonics, the former Texas Christian star averaged 7.5 points and 8.8 rebounds.

"We need things that they don't and they need things that may not fit here right now," Spurs general manager R.C. Buford said. "Hopefully the addition of Kurt will strengthen our playoff push."

The SuperSonics acquired the 35-year-old Thomas from Phoenix in July. Thomas, taken by Miami in the first round of the 1995 draft, also has played for Dallas and New York.

"I think the landscape of the West has put a premium on interior defense," Buford said. "Now with the trades of recent days, that's only improved."

Shaquille O'Neal was recently traded to the Phoenix Suns, and Memphis traded 7-footer
Pau Gasol to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Sonics general manager Sam Presti moved forward with the trade mostly for the draft pick. Seattle has 13 draft picks over the next three years, including six in the first round -- two each season.

"Looking at the first-round pick, in combination with our other future picks, we have great flexibility to add to our core or acquire another impact player in the future," Presti said. "At the same time, Kurt is a tremendous person and player, and I appreciate his contributions this season and wish him success."

Along with the first-rounder, Seattle gets the expiring contracts of Barry and Elson, which combined with trade exception money left over from trades involving Ray Allen and
Rashard Lewis, should give the Sonics flexibility under the salary cap.

Presti would not say whether there are any other deals pending before Thursday's trade deadline.

"We have a responsibility to listen if something comes across our desk that we feel like can make us better now or in the future," he said.

Buford said Thomas, assigned to guard Duncan during last season's Spurs-Suns series, will not be with the team for its game against Minnesota on Thursday night.

The SuperSonics are 14-38 and have struggled this season despite the addition of No. 2 overall draft pick Kevin Durant. The Spurs are 35-17.

Barry, who signed with the Spurs as a free agent in July 2004, averaged 7.3 points in 29 games for San Antonio this season. The 13-year veteran has been sidelined the last few weeks by a calf injury.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was asked about a timeline for Barry's return before a game on Tuesday -- a day before the trade was announced -- and said it would probably be two to three weeks.

"He was playing really well early in the year and now there's been a 20, 25-game period where we've missed him throughout," Buford said of Barry.

Elson averaged 3.5 points and 3.3 rebounds in 41 games with the Spurs this season, his second in San Antonio.