The Washington Wizards traded Jerry Stackhouse, Christian Laettner and the fifth overall pick in tonight's NBA draft to the Dallas Mavericks last night for reigning NBA sixth man of the year Antawn Jamison, according to a source close to the Mavericks.
The Wizards obtained the 6-foot-9, 225-pound Jamison, who is expected to start for the Wizards and could become one of the premier forwards in the Eastern Conference. He averaged 14.8 points and 6.3 rebounds this past season as the Mavericks' top reserve.
The trade between the Mavericks and Wizards was hung up for a while last night, said a source, because of Laettner's contract, which includes a stipulation that he receive a 20 percent increase to his $6.2 million salary if traded.
The Mavericks, who are pursuing a trade with the Los Angeles Lakers for center Shaquille O'Neal, wanted the Wizards' first-round pick as part of a package to entice the Lakers to part with O'Neal.
The Wizards were eager to move swingman Stackhouse and forward Laettner, players whom team management believed were negative influences in the club's locker room, said one source. Both players were left available to the Charlotte Bobcats in Tuesday night's expansion draft and the Wizards considered other trade possibilities involving both players in case the deal with Dallas fell through.
This is the first major trade for the Wizards' president of basketball operations, Ernie Grunfeld, who has said that he would field a squad that featured players with good character.
Known as one of the most likable players in the league, the 28-year-old Jamison is a former college teammate and close friend of Washington's center, Brendan Haywood. The two played at North Carolina, and the Wizards are hoping that Jamison can help motivate Haywood, said a source.
Jamison, who will make $12.5 million next season with an option year to follow, would also be reunited with point guard Gilbert Arenas. The two played two years together for the Golden State Warriors.
The 6-6, 218-pound Stackhouse, who averaged 13.9 points this past season and was limited to 26 games because of an assortment of injuries, had fallen out of the favor with management. Before the season, he was arrested after allegedly assaulting a real estate agent during a quarrel over the length of his stay at a rented beach house.
Stackhouse, 29, caused a controversy when he announced in February -- without discussing it with team management -- that he was benching himself for the remaining two months of the season.
Stackhouse, a former all-star, has three seasons left on his contract, for a total of $22.5 million. He was obtained from the Detroit Pistons for Richard Hamilton in September 2002.
The lightly used Laettner, who was acquired by the Wizards from the Mavericks in February 2001, averaged 5.9 points in 48 games this past season. The 34-year-old 6-11 forward saw his playing time diminish in January after he was suspended for five games by the league for violating the NBA's drug policy.
Besides wanting to unload players, another reason that the Wizards my have sought the trade was that with more high school seniors and teenage international players in this year's draft than ever before, their chances of drafting someone who could contribute next season may have appeared slim.
"It's probably not a draft that's going to produce a lot of impact players right away," Grunfeld said two weeks ago at the NBA's Chicago pre-draft camp.
Washington is already waiting for young players, such as forward-center Kwame Brown, guard Juan Dixon and forward Jared Jeffries, to develop.
A source said that the Wizards' coaching staff has already considered lineup possibilities, which may include moving Brown from power forward to center.
The starting lineup could be guards Arenas and Larry Hughes, with Jarvis Hayes and Jamison at the forward spots and the 6-11 Brown at center. First-year coach Eddie Jordan played Brown at center for part of last season.
Part of the reason for moving Brown is the possibility that the Wizards may lose center-forward Etan Thomas, a restricted free agent who has drawn interest from the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat.
The Wizards are confident that they will re-sign Thomas. Even if they do, it may not be enough to dissuade Jordan from making Brown the team's starting center.