Posted on Tue, Jul. 12, 2005
Wizards seeking Lakers' Butler in deal
By David Aldridge
Inquirer Staff Writer
LAS VEGAS - The Washington Wizards, stung by the loss of free agent Larry Hughes to the Cavaliers, may be able to stanch the sting.
Sources involved with the discussions say that the Wizards are talking to the Los Angeles Lakers about a sign-and-trade deal in which forward Kwame Brown, the top pick in the 2001 NBA draft, would go to the Lakers in exchange for swingman Caron Butler.
The Wizards have other options on the table that could bring them a much-needed big man in return for Brown, but Butler would make a lot of sense.
Butler has been available during most of his yearlong stay in Los Angeles. If the Lakers move him and, as expected, release forward Brian Grant in order to save money under the luxury tax, they would have precious little to show for their blockbuster trade of Shaquille O'Neal to Miami.
At home in Portland? Nate McMillan looks odd in a Portland Trail Blazers polo shirt.
But here he is, at the Las Vegas Summer League, looking at his backcourt of the future - Sebastian Telfair and first-round pick Martell Webster. That may be about all McMillan has to look forward to in the immediate future because the Blazers are officially rebuilding. Well, that and the $25 million that owner Paul Allen will be sending McMillan's way.
Seeing McMillan with the Blazers and not with the Seattle Sonics - the team he played with and coached for 19 years - is odd. But it also feels right.
"I was just feeling that maybe it's time to go, maybe it's time to change, go a different direction," he said. "At the beginning of [last] season, I had prepared myself. Everybody was saying I was on the hot seat. I heard 'dead man walking' and all of that stuff that was said. So I kind of prepared myself for the possibility that if I had to move, it wouldn't be a surprise to me."
But the Sonics surprised just about everyone by winning the Northwest Division and making the second round of the playoffs. And when Ray Allen agreed to an $80 million contract at the start of free agency, many assumed that McMillan would stay. But he turned down what he deemed a fair offer to move about a half-hour (by plane) south. Of course, it's a world removed in terms of atmosphere. The Blazers have put the "t" in turmoil.
Part of the reason for his move is that McMillan wasn't certain about the Sonics' future. Even after agreeing to terms with Allen, Seattle has eight free agents.
But the bigger reason for the move may have been the Sonics' unwillingness to give McMillan a permanent position in the organization after he was done coaching.
"The money was fair for a coach coming in," McMillan said. "But for someone that's been there 19 years - I couldn't risk it. If I'm here 23 years and I walk away or I get let go, you forget about me like [Gary] Payton. Or you forget about me like Shaquille [O'Neal]."
Kind of confirms the Kwame Brown talk, but I hope we can get more than that for Caron. I think he's going to have a great year, and Brown is still a headcase. And of course, Caron punched Sucky!