Penny Hardaway got what he wanted and was traded to the Phoenix Suns yesterday, ending his fading star career in Orlando and completing the breakup of a Magic team that went to the NBA Finals just four years ago.
After a final day of reconsidering their options and trying to talk Hardaway into staying, the Magic finally made the trade and acquired Danny Manning, Pat Garrity and two first-round draft picks.
Hardaway, who will be paid $86 million over the next seven years, joins Jason Kidd in what could be one of the most formidable back courts in the NBA.
It was a major coup for the Suns, who had no room under the salary cap to go after free agents, let alone one the stature of Hardaway.
"I have nothing against Orlando. I came to Phoenix and fell in love with Phoenix," Hardaway said last night. "I thank the Magic for going through with the deal because they didn't have to. They saw the same thing I saw; it's time for me to just move on and start a new career. I wanted to do it here in Phoenix."
For the Magic, it marked the end of an era. Just a few years ago, the team looked as if it would be an enduring Eastern Conference powerhouse when its roster included Hardaway and Shaquille O'Neal.
Instead, the Magic will plunge into a massive rebuilding job without a single star left, though the club has 10 first-round draft picks over the next five years.
"Clearly the goal for the franchise is to win a world championship, even though this might not happen next year," General Manager John Gabriel said. "The trade of Penny Hardaway sets us for the launch of a new era and a new team."
"I believe it's the best thing for [Penny] to get a fresh start."
Meanwhile, in a move that angered the Milwaukee Bucks, Dell Curry signed a three-year contract with the Toronto Raptors. Curry, who got a three-year, $6 million contract, told the Bucks on Sunday that he'd accept their two-year offer worth $1.1 million annually.
"He gave his word two times, than changed his mind," Bucks General Manager Bob Weinhauer said. "I don't want to talk about him."
Curry led the NBA in three-point accuracy last season, shooting 47.6 percent from behind the arc. With Toronto, he will be teamed with Dee Brown, who led the NBA with 135 three-pointers and 349 three-point attempts last season.
In Los Angeles, Rick Fox signed a multi-year contract with the Lakers. No terms were announced, but it was believed Fox agreed to a six-year deal worth around $25 million.
Terry Porter's uncertainty about the direction of the Miami Heat prompted him to sign with the NBA champion San Antonio Spurs. The 36-year-old guard agreed to a three-year, $6.6 million contract under the mid-level salary-cap exception.