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Pacers send Rose to Bulls in seven-player deal

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Indiana Pacers president Donnie Walsh insisted he wasn't shopping Jalen Rose, but would listen to offers. He heard one he liked Tuesday. The Pacers traded Rose, Travis Best, rookie Norman Richardson and a conditional second-round draft pick to the Chicago Bulls for Brad Miller, Ron Mercer, Ron Artest and Kevin Ollie, two days before the NBA trading deadline.
Mike Monroe's Dot-comment
I don't know what the problem was that put Jalen Rose in Isiah Thomas' doghouse, but whatever strained their relationship was enough to force what I think is going to be the only significant deal of NBA trade week. Who was the winner in this first Trade Week deal? Immediately, it's the Pacers. They get a legitimate center, Brad Miller, so Jermaine O'Neal can play his natural position, power forward. They also get a defensive stopper, Ron Artest, they can slap on guys like Vince Carter and Ray Allen and Paul Pierce. Further, Jamaal Tinsley can relax a little knowing the organization is totally committed to his being the point guard of here and now, as well as the future. It's too bad the Pacers can't figure a way to graft Ron Mercer's offensive skills on to Artest's body, because Artest never is going to be a big-time scorer and the next guy Mercer stops on defense will be the first of his career. Mercer ought to be happy to escape last place, but he's never happy unless he's on the floor, preferably with the ball in his hands. And when it is in his hands, he always shoots it. In fact, I wonder if there might be a second Pacers deal brewing to move Mercer elsewhere, because I just don't see him fitting well with Indiana. As for the Bulls, down the road a bit they can actually see some light at the end of their long, dark post-Jordan tunnel. Their offense will run through Rose now, whether he is playing the point or small forward, and that ought to make him happy and the Bulls a lot more prolific. Plus, Best's speed in the open court ought to optimize Tyson Chandler's real strength, which is speed singularly rare among 7-footers. Miller's departure ought to speed the development of Eddie Curry, too. I have to give some major props to Bulls GM Jerry Krause. He resisted the offer the Pacers had on the table earlier this week: Rose, Bruno Sundov and Best for Miller, Artest and Charles Oakley. Now we know why. He wanted rid of Mercer, not Oakley. Good move, Jerry, even if you were the one who signed Mercer as a free agent in the first place.

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"We're better along," Walsh said. "We have some parts we didn't have and are hard to get. That's why it calls for a Jalen Rose." Walsh said Bulls general manager Jerry Krause called him right before he left for the All-Star break and made an offer for Rose. Walsh discussed a potential trade with Chicago later in the week and the deal was tentatively made Sunday. "We feel Jalen is an outstanding all-around player who can play three positions offensively and defensively," Krause said. Some hang-ups developed - the Bulls substituted Mercer for forward Charles Oakley - before Walsh agreed to the deal Tuesday morning. Walsh said he wanted Oakley in the deal but the Bulls pulled him off the table because of salary-cap issues. "He would have been a good player to have here," Walsh said. "They felt they needed his mentoring for their two young big guys." Rose said after Indiana's victory over Philadelphia that Walsh promised him he wouldn't be traded. Walsh said he never made that promise, and added that speculation that Rose and coach Isiah Thomas could not coexist was not a factor in the deal. Rose's agent, David Falk, blamed Thomas for the trade. "I think he's disillusioned with his former coach," Falk said. "About 18 months ago, Jalen recommended Isiah as his coach. This is the way Isiah reciprocated his loyalty. "He could have had Jalen eating out of his hands, but instead he injected petty, personal issues that drove a wedge between them. Look at his track record, like the CBA, and that's the way he is." Falk said he was on the phone almost daily with Walsh to improve the situation brought on by a decrease in playing time that started in December. Falk said he never asked for a trade. "If you're going to be a good coach, you're job is to manage good relations with players," Falk said. "He should have the easiest time on earth taking Jalen under his wing and helping him achieve what his talents allowed him to achieve. He did just the opposite this year. He made the relationship personal." Walsh said Tuesday night that he was the one responsible for the trade and reiterated it was not made because of any problems between Thomas and Rose. "There was a time they were going through communication problems but they got through that," Walsh said. "Those are David's feelings. That isn't why we made this trade. I have a lot of respect for David and a deep feeling for Jalen. In the end, I try to do what's best for the team." Falk released a statement from Rose, saying, "In every adverse situation, successful people find opportunity." Thomas was not immediately available for comment. The deal significantly upgrades a Pacers frontcourt lacking size and depth. Walsh said the 7-foot, 260-pound Miller and 6-7, 245-pound Artest have the big bodies he was looking to acquire. Walsh has practically completed the dismantling of a franchise that reached the NBA Finals two years ago. Only Reggie Miller and Austin Croshere are regulars left from that team. Since then, the Pacers are 67-68. "It's hard thinking about all the guys I came in with and played my first three years with," Croshere said. "Now Reggie is the only guy left from my rookie year. I understand that's part of the business, and I guess Jalen did too." Rose was leading the Pacers in scoring (18.5) for the third straight season and said he had no desire to be traded. He had taken a backseat in the offense as the focus shifted inside to Jermaine O'Neal. The additions of Artest and Miller allow the Pacers to shift O'Neal to a more natural power forward spot. Best, in the final year of his contract, had requested a trade earlier this season as rookie Jamaal Tinsley played the majority of minutes at point guard. The Pacers are four games out of first place in the Central Division while Chicago (12-40) has the NBA's worst record. Mercer, who signed with the Bulls as a free agent two summers ago, has been traded three times during his 4 seasons in the NBA. He was leading the Bulls in scoring, averaging 16.8 points. Miller, an Indiana native who played at Purdue, averaged 12.7 points and 8.4 rebounds for Chicago. He was involved in an altercation with Lakers center Shaquille O'Neal earlier this season that led to a three-game suspension for O'Neal. Artest, in his third season, averaged 15.6 points for Chicago. Ollie, who had been Chicago's starting point guard since Greg Anthony was injured in January, will replace Best as the backup point guard. Richardson had played in only three games this season for Indiana. Rose had five years remaining on his contract, with $72 million guaranteed. Walsh said dumping Rose's contract helps clear space to potentially re-sign O'Neal, Jonathan Bender and Jeff Foster, whose contracts expire at the end of next season. Thomas said he would slot Bender into Rose's small forward spot to try to keep some sort of chemistry on the court. He would like to start Miller at center. Thomas said he envisioned Mercer playing more minutes at small forward. Walsh, who has made only three midseason deals since he took over the Pacers in 1986, said he might not be done dealing but said it would be hard to make another trade. "Do I have a trade going out of this room? No, I don't," he said. "But I don't know what's going to happen." Falk said he had great respect for Walsh and the trade wouldn't affect their relationship. "When he signed (Rose) to a maximum contract, he made the commitment the team would be built around him," Falk said. "Isiah interfered with those commitments. One of them had to go. I think they chose the wrong one."
Tagged: Bulls, Pacers, 76ers, Brad Miller, Metta World Peace, Jalen Rose

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