The Utah Jazz beefed up its front line with centers Darryl Dawkins and Mel Turpin in a seven-player NBA trade yesterday that also involved the Cleveland Cavaliers and New Jersey Nets.

The player shuffle began with New Jersey sending Dawkins to Cleveland in exchange for guard John Bagley and forward Keith Lee. The Cavaliers then sent Dawkins and Turpin to Utah for backup center Kent Benson, reserve guard Dell Curry and forward James Bailey.

All seven of the players traded were first-round draft picks, but none was a starter at the end of the 1986-87 season.

Dawkins, 30, a 12-year NBA veteran, has a 12.3-point career scoring average. But the 6-foot-11, 270-pounder has been hampered by injuries; he played in only six games in 1986-87 and in a total of 97 the past three seasons.

Turpin, 26, a three-year player for Cleveland with a 10.4-point career average, scored 6.1 points per game in 64 games last season.

Jazz Coach Frank Layden said the trades will provide more playing time for Curry, who averaged under 10 minutes a game and 4.9 points in his rookie year.

Bailey and Lee have had health problems. Bailey, 30, averaged 8.3 points per game in 34 games last season. Questions about Lee's health prevented Cleveland from trading him to Portland last season.

Bagley, entering his sixth NBA seson, averaged 10.7 points in 72 games last season. The 6-10 Benson, 32, played in 73 games with the Jazz last season and averaged 4.5 points . . .

Former NBA all-star forward Bernard King will not return to the New York Knicks and his $874,000 salary will be used in the team's effort to acquire Sidney Green from the Detroit Pistons, according to a published report.

The New York Daily News reported that Green, a 6-foot-9 forward, would replace King on the roster. A spot had to be cleared by the Knicks, who have offered Green $2.2 million over the next three years, to keep the team within the league's salary cap.

King, who has a career scoring average of 23.5 points, has not been healthy since the 1983-84 season.