• Several teams have players who would fit in well with the Blazers
In the interest of being of service to Trail Blazer management chiefs Steve Patterson and John Nash Ñ good guys, difficult jobs Ñ your trustworthy reporter is ready with an opinion on what makes sense if a trade of Rasheed Wallace is in the cards.
Dallas isn't the only option. In fact, it is not a good option if Antawn Jamison is involved. Nice player, only 27, but Jamison's contract is too much of a salary cap burden Ñ it runs through 2008 and calls for him to make $18.1 million the final season.
Here are a few scenarios that make sense from a Portland perspective, with a reminder that Wallace makes $17 million in this, the final year of his contract, and any deal must bring back total salary within 15 percent of that, plus $100,000:
• Atlanta's Shareef Abdur-Rahim and a player making at least $1 million.
Abdur-Rahim, 27, makes $13.5 million this season and $14.6 million in the last year of his deal next season. Natural small forward, excellent scorer, good character guy. The Hawks are going nowhere, so they might be willing to take on Wallace and get salary cap room this summer.
• Cleveland's Zydrunas Ilgauskas and a player making at least $1 million.
Ilgauskas, 28, has a contract with identical terms to that of Abdur-Rahim. He has a history of leg injuries, a major concern, but has been healthy for more than two seasons. Very good offensive skills, and at 7-3 a big man with credentials that don't come along often. Cavaliers General Manager Jim Paxson knows how valuable Wallace could be in the Eastern Conference.
• Detroit's Bob Sura, Lindsey Hunter, Zeljko Rebracca and Darko Milicic, who make a combined $17.2 million this season.
Sura, Hunter and Rebracca are in the final year of their contracts, and any or all of them could be waived. The 7-foot Milicic, 18, is the key here. He could develop into Portland's big man of the future. Detroit coach Larry Brown considers Wallace 'a good kid' and an outstanding talent who would fit well on a front line alongside Ben Wallace and Tayshaun Prince.
• Chicago's Antonio Davis and either Tyson Chandler or Eddy Curry.
Davis, 35, just came over from Toronto and still has two years after this one ($12 million in 2004-05 and $13 million in 2005-06), so the contract situation is less than ideal. Davis is not the talent Wallace is, but he is a capable inside presence with a history of durability. The Bulls have not picked up the option on either Chandler or Curry, two young, big men who have potential to blossom. If Chicago GM John Paxson listens to Scottie Pippen, who has firsthand experience with Wallace's antics, the Bulls wouldn't consider it.
By league rules, this one -couldn't be consummated until Feb. 1, 90 days after the Toronto deal was made.
• New York's Keith Van Horn and Kurt Thomas.
Van Horn ($13.3 million this year, plus two additional years at $14.5 million and $15.6 million) is overpaid, but he is 28 and an underrated talent at small forward. Thomas, 31, makes $5.4 million this year and $5.9 million next year. He would fortify the middle and give the Blazers a rebounder and defender in support of Zach Randolph and Dale Davis.
Coaches, players: Do it now
Nash is talking daily with teams about potential trades.
'We are better off doing nothing and not being encumbered by bad contracts or bad players,' the Portland GM says. 'Would I like to make a good trade? Yeah. We would have made one by now if there was anything out there.'
If a trade is to be made, Blazer players and coaches would prefer it be done now rather than closer to the Feb. 19 deadline.
'I don't really want to see 'Sheed go,' Damon Stoudamire says, 'but if you think that is what's best for the team, you should do something before the trade deadline. Don't let it play out.'
Stoudamire says the trade rumors have been distracting the last few weeks.
'A cloud is always over this team,' he says.
Jeff McInnis has heard his name mentioned in trade talks, too.
'I don't read the papers, but friends tell me my name is in a lot of rumors,' he says.
Zach Randolph's game has suffered while Wallace has been out with an ankle injury. On the recent four-game road trip, the young power forward shot .346 from the field and averaged 12 points and eight rebounds, far shy of his season averages.
'The whole road trip, I didn't play good,' Randolph says. 'Teams are focusing on me. They are running two or three guys at me every time I get the ball, and I ain't used to that. I am getting my shots, but I have to hurry or take a quick shot or a bad shot. With both me and Rasheed on the court, they have to stay out on him, too.'
Randolph stops short of saying Wallace shouldn't be traded.
'Rasheed is a big-time player,' Randolph says. 'I like playing with him. But we aren't playing well. I don't know É maybe it is time to do something.'
The inevitable move that returns Derek Anderson to the starting lineup means either Stoudamire or McInnis goes to the bench. McInnis, the more likely suspect, says it wouldn't bother him. 'Damon and I feel the same way,' McInnis says. 'If (Anderson) is the best guy for the position, so be it. I will just play when I get in, starter or not.' É McInnis says he is surprised that Portland, an NBA-worst 2-15 on the road, can't get the job done late in close games. 'It puzzles me we can't win games or follow instructions sometimes late in games, with all the veterans we have on the floor,' he says.
Nash says he spoke with the agent for Arvydas Sabonis, Herb Rudoy, when the Blazers were in Chicago last weekend, but the chances the 7-3 Lithuanian would return to Portland this season are slim. 'We haven't given up on the season yet, but if we are a nonplayoff team, it is less likely he would come back,' Nash says. 'That would be an exercise in futility.' Sabonis, 39, is playing for Zalgiris Kaunas, his club team in Lithuania.
Wallace said in an interview with the NBA's 'Shootaround' show last weekend that his comments about Commissioner David Stern and the league were taken out of context. 'I was not attacking David Stern,' Wallace said. 'It wasn't no personal feelings about É him. When I did the interview É it just came out. If I would have known it was going to get this heavy É and blow up out of proportion like the majority of people did, no, I wouldn't (have said) it.'