Originally created 02/22/98

Nets are showing a knack for pulling off smart deals



The New Jersey Nets might have pulled off their third great trade in 367 days.

Rony Seikaly is a risky proposition, especially since he comes with a possible stress fracture in his ankle.

But there's a reason why a smart organization like the Utah Jazz went after him in the first place, and it's the same reason why New Jersey had to take him.

When healthy and content, Seikaly is a very good NBA center. And very good NBA centers are nearly impossible to get.

The Nets are showing themselves to be adept at the trading game. Last year, they made the major nine-player deal with Dallas to get rid of Shawn Bradley and acquire Sam Cassell and Chris Gatling.

With the extra chips they acquired in the Dallas trade (Eric Montross, Jim Jackson and a No. 1 pick they got by quickly rerouting George McCloud), the Nets made a draft day deal with Philadelphia to get No. 2 pick Keith Van Horn.

With a possible playoff starting five of Seikaly, All-Star Jayson Williams, Van Horn, Kerry Kittles and Cassell, as well as a second unit of Kendall Gill, Sherman Douglas, Michael Cage, Gatling and Lucious Harris, the Nets probably have the deepest team in the East.

All that talent doesn't have playoff experience, and combined with the questions surrounding Seikaly it might not made New Jersey a safe bet come playoff time.

But the Nets have played the trading game well enough to be light years ahead of where they were just 13 months ago when they were still piping fake crowd noise through the loudspeakers.

TRADE TIDBITS:

The aborted Seikaly-to-Utah deal raised plenty of eyebrows around the league because it was one in a string of instances in which players squashed trades and ended up getting their way.

Seikaly didn't want to go to Utah, so he failed to report, sent the Jazz mixed signals and forced the trade to be voided. His agent, Steve Kaufman, had expected Seikaly to be traded to New York, New Jersey or Boston.

After the Jazz nullified the trade, Kaufman was involved in discussions that ended up with the trade to New Jersey. The Nets spoke to Seikaly after finalizing the trade and were assured that the player would report.

Earlier in the week, former Georgia Tech star Kenny Anderson was rerouted by the Toronto Raptors after he refused to report. But after Anderson landed in Boston, word came out that the Raptors had waived the requirement that Anderson report within 48 hours -- meaning Toronto had promised all along that it would find a taker after acquiring Anderson in the Damon Stoudamire deal with Portland.

Stoudamire also squashed two trades, one to Orlando and one to New Jersey. Stoudamire informed the Magic that they couldn't expect to re-sign him if Penny Hardaway wasn't there. Since Hardaway would have been dealt in order to get Stoudamire, it didn't work.

Stoudamire, who spoke to some of the Nets players, told New Jersey that he didn't want to play for a screamer like John Calipari.

The latest player to hold up a trade was Doug West, who was angered that he was traded to hapless Vancouver for Anthony Peeler after the Timberwolves told him he wouldn't be moved.

West, who was the last remaining member of the original Timberwolves, could be jeopardizing the remaining three years and $9.9 million on his contract.

"I'm willing to take a week or two to think about things," he said. "My sanity and well-being is more important to me than the dollar. I can't go through (seasons of) 14 or 15 wins again."

Anderson paid dividends to Boston, scoring eight of his 19 points in the final four minutes Friday night to lead the Celtics to a 106-96 victory over the Seattle SuperSonics.

RELATIVE VALUE:

One other item from the Seikaly fiasco, as they're calling it in Salt Lake City.

It became apparent that the Magic couldn't get much in return for Seikaly when they made the trade with Utah and didn't even get back their own upcoming draft pick.

The Magic and Jazz had traded together once before, and Utah was wise enough in 1996 to get an unprotected 1998 No. 1 pick from Orlando along with Brooks Thompson in exchange for Felton Spencer.

That pick looks like a lottery selection now, yet Utah was only willing to give its own pick -- a very low first-rounder -- to Orlando in the original Seikaly trade.

In the second Seikaly trade, Orlando had to take on the contract of legendary bust Yinka Dare, who has two more years remaining for more than $4 million.

Dare's last straw with the Nets came about six weeks ago when his agent showed up at Calipari's post-game news conference and shouted questions about Dare's lack of playing time.

DEAL DAY COUNT:

Compared to 1996 and 1997, this year's trade deadline day was a little quieter. But it was still the third-busiest day since 1987, as the following list shows:

Feb. 19, 1998 -- four trades involving 13 players

Feb. 20, 1997 -- six trades involving 15 players

Feb. 22, 1996 -- six trades involving 19 players

Feb. 23, 1995 -- one trade involving 2 players

Feb. 24, 1994 -- four trades involving 8 players

Feb. 25, 1993 -- two trades involving 3 players

Feb. 20, 1992 -- one trade involving 2 players

Feb. 20, 1991 -- one trade involving 2 players

Feb. 22, 1990 -- five trades involving 7 players

Feb. 23, 1989 -- two trades involving 5 players

Feb. 25, 1988 -- three trades involving 9 players

Feb. 15, 1987 -- one trade involving 1 player

Counting all the trades that were make in the week leading up to this year's deadline, nearly 10 percent of the league's player population changed teams.

SHADDUP SIGNAL:

Nick Van Exel has started a trend with his palms-down hands gesture, the opposite of the "raise the roof" motion of extending both arms skyward, palms open, after making a nice play.

"I only do it on the road, to shut up the building, keep the crowd quiet," Van Exel explained. "It's the opposite of `raise the roof."'

THIS 'N THAT:

Female referee Dee Kantner clearly heard the boos, shrugging her shoulders a bit in response, when the Madison Square Garden crowd got on her for whistling Allan Houston for a shuffle-step traveling violation. ... Of the top 15 draftees in the 1995 class, the first to be tied to the three-year rookie wage scale, 13 have been traded. The other two are Kevin Garnett of Minnesota and Bryant Reeves of Vancouver. ... Kendall Gill of the Nets, after shooting an airball on a free throw and missing the rim by a good three feet, blamed it on El Nino.