3-Way NBA Trade Sends Kemp to Portland

Portland, Cleveland and Miami completed a five-player deal today, with the Trail Blazers sending power forward Brian Grant to the Heat and getting Shawn Kemp.

The trade was to be announced by the Cavaliers and Blazers at a late news conferences, but Grant’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, confirmed it during a conference call.

“Brian wanted to make sure he was playing for a team that had a chance to win a championship, a team where he would play a major role and he would be the starting power forward, with a great coach and a terrific city,” Bartelstein said. “Miami has all that covered and more.”

Terms of the Deal

Under terms of the deal, which has been known for weeks but finally met league approval today, Grant signed a new seven-year, $86 million deal with the Blazers. In exchange for Grant, the Heat sent Chris Gatling and Clarence Weatherspoon, along with a first-round draft choice and cash, to the Cavaliers.

The Blazers get Kemp, whose weight problems, bloated contract and surly attitude have made him unwelcome in Cleveland. Kemp, who played for the Seattle SuperSonics when Blazers general manager Bob Whitsitt was there, is due to make $71 million in the next four seasons.

Cleveland also gets Portland’s 36-year-old backup point guard, Gary Grant, who almost certainly will be cut.

Brian Grant was slowed by knee and foot injuries last season, and he averaged career lows of 21 minutes, 7.3 points and 5.5 rebounds. Grant, one of the league’s most emotional players and fiercest rebounders, also was frustrated by giving up the spotlight to Rasheed Wallace, who had a breakout season playing the same position.

“He’s got a lot to prove, and he’s looking forward to proving it,” Bartelstein said. “He’s got a lot of pride, and it hurt him to go through what he went through last season.”

Miami’s Hot Front Line

Grant had been courted by the New York Knicks and Cleveland, but Miami could offer the kind of raise he was looking for. He made about $7.7 million with the Blazers last season. The Los Angeles Lakers also were interested, but the most they could afford was the $2.25 million exception.

When Miami traded its own power forward, P.J. Brown, to Charlotte for Eddie Jones, it opened the door for Grant to waltz in. Bartelstein also represents Brown.

The deal gives the Heat an imposing front line that also has Alonzo Mourning and Anthony Mason, and puts coach Pat Riley in his best position to make it back to the NBA Finals since he’s been in Miami.

Portland Hopes to Revive Kemp

Kemp, who signed a seven-year, $98 million contract after coming to the Cavs in a three-way trade in 1997, will join a Blazers’ team that nearly upset the eventual NBA champion Lakers in the Western Conference finals last season.

The Blazers are hoping a return to the Pacific Northwest will motivate Kemp, who began his career in Seattle where he worked with Whitsitt. He has reported to training camp 50 pounds overweight the past two seasons in Cleveland.

The added weight grounded Kemp, who used to be one of the most ferocious dunkers in the league. Too often last season he was forced to adjust his shot or just had it blocked. He finished the season averaging 17.8 points per game — his lowest total since 1992-93- and with a career-low .417 field-goal percentage.

Kemp was also a liability on the defensive end, leading the league in personal fouls and finishing third in turnovers — a remarkable stat for a frontline player.

The 30-year-old was a bigger headache off the court. He regularly arrived late for home games, team meetings and flights, failing to be the type of role model the Cavs wanted their young players to learn from.

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