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Grant-Kemp Deal Finally Done

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

Under terms of the deal, which has been known for weeks but finally met league approval, Grant signed a 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.

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

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

"He's had a great career and still has good games in him," Whitsitt said. "He'll do what is needed of him to win. He's not a statistics guy. He's done that.

"He's done everything a guy can do in the NBA, but win a championship. He's hungry for it."

Portland guard Steve Smith, practicing with the U.S. Olympic team in Hawaii, said the 6-foot-10 Kemp will be a big help guarding the Los Angeles Lakers' Shaquille O'Neal.

"We've got so many guys. We're the other Dream Team," Smith said.

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

"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," said Mark Bartelstein, Brian Grant's agent. "Miami has all that covered and more.

"He's got a lot to prove, and he's looking forward to proving it. He's got a lot of pride, and it hurt him to go through what he went through last season."

Grant had been courted by the New York Knicks and Cleveland, but Miami cold 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. 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.

"It looks fabulous on paper, looks like we're going to come out of the East, but I've seen some of the most talented teams not win anything," Mourning said. "Look at Portland: The last time they won it was when Bill Walton was there. There's always a lot of talent there, but they never win. So talent alone won't do it."

Kemp, who joins a Portland team that nearly beat the eventual NBA champion Lakers in the Western Conference finals, signed a seven-year, $98 million contract after coming to the Cavs in a three-way trade in 1997.

"Whenever you're considering trading, every factor comes into it," Cavaliers general manager Jim Paxson said. "To say strictly done for financial reasons, no. Strictly done for the weight reasons everything factors in.

"Because of the back end of his (Kemp's) contract, the flexibility of being able to do anything to improve this team was greatly limited. So in the short term we have depth, we have a lot of players fighting for time and positions, and in the long term we have some flexibility."

The Blazers are hoping a return to the Pacific Northwest will motivate Kemp. 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 - his lowest total since 1992-93 and with a career-low 41.7 field-goal percentage.

"Clearly, I expect him to be in shape to play, and I know he will," Whitsitt said. "If you look at what he did last year, you have to be an athlete in good shape to do that."

Kemp also was 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 forward 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.

Gatling, who came to Miami in a pre-draft trade with Denver, ho has one year left on a contract that will pay him $5.4 million this season. He averaged 11.9 points and 5.9 rebounds in 85 games last season with Orlando and Denver.

Weatherspoon averaged 7.2 points for Miami. Gary Grant played in just three games last season for Portland.

©2000 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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