Busy Bobcats send Wallace to Blazers, make deal with Thunder

CBSSports.com wire reports
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Charlotte Bobcats have agreed to trade forward Gerald Wallace to the Portland Trail Blazers for a package that includes two first-round picks as owner Michael Jordan cuts payroll and eyes the future.

Coach Paul Silas confirmed Thursday the deal made just before the deadline would also give the Bobcats center Joel Przybilla and reserve forward Dante Cunningham, who are in the last year of their contracts.

The Bobcats also sent backup center Nazr Mohammed to Oklahoma City for reserve forward D.J. White and the expiring contract of guard Morris Peterson.

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Both trades were awaiting league approval to become official, and the Bobcats would need to trim two players to get to the 15-man limit.

Wallace, averaging 15.6 points and 8.2 rebounds, was the last original member of the Bobcats, taken in the 2004 expansion draft. Wallace developed from a benchwarmer in Sacramento to an All-Star last season and was clearly the face of the fledgling franchise on the floor.

Wallace's numbers had tailed off some this season and he's due to make about $21 million over the next two years. Without Wallace, the Bobcats will likely face a difficult task staying in playoff contention in the Eastern Conference, where they sit 1½ games behind eighth-place Indiana.

The move gives Portland another athletic scorer and rebounder just as Brandon Roy returned from knee surgery. Despite numerous injuries, the Blazers had won six straight before Wednesday's loss to the Los Angeles Lakers and sit in seventh place in the crowded Western Conference standings.

The Bobcats had been shopping Wallace for months. They had discussions with Cleveland and had been in on-and-off talks with the Blazers over the past few days, haggling over different combinations of players and draft picks.

Wallace had expressed a desire to stay in Charlotte right through Thursday's practice, which ended about three hours before the trade.

"I love the city of Charlotte. I love the fans," Wallace said. "I feel like I owe the city. The city doesn't owe me anything. I was given an opportunity to showcase my skills here in Charlotte."

It marks the second time since Jordan bought the team last year that the six-time NBA champion has sliced payroll from the team losing tens of millions of dollars a year.

The Bobcats last summer traded center Tyson Chandler to Dallas for center Erick Dampier, then voided Dampier's $13 million contract and waived him to get under the luxury tax threshold.

With two first-round picks and lowering their salary-cap figure by $8 million for next year, the Bobcats will have more flexibility to reshape the roster in the next few seasons. It's a departure from the past few years when Jordan was quick to trade draft picks for veterans.

The 7-foot-1 Przybilla was averaging 1.8 points and 3.9 rebounds in 31 games this season, including nine starts. He sat out the team's first 18 games, recovering from a knee injury he first suffered last season and the stomach flu.

While rumors about the deal swirled Wednesday night, Przybilla started in Portland's 106-101 loss to the two-time defending NBA champion Lakers.

Afterward, Przybilla said that trades were an inevitable part of the business.

"It's been a great journey," he said. "If it's come to an end, I've enjoyed it."

Przybilla will likely replace Mohammed as Kwame Brown's backup. Mohammed, who was in the final year of his deal and recently lost his starting job, will now join the athletic and talented Thunder.

Cunningham, a second-round pick from Villanova in 2009, thanked Portland fans on his Twitter page Thursday. Averaging 5.1 points and 3.4 rebounds, the 6-foot-8 forward has recently been wearing a facemask during games after he fractured his right eye socket earlier this month in a victory over Cleveland.

White, who is due only $2 million next season, has played in 28 games and is averaging 2.8 points this season.

The 33-year-old Peterson has not played in a game since Dec. 12.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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