- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 2, 2001

The Washington Wizards yesterday cut local ties with former University of Maryland standout Laron Profit, trading the swingman and a first-round draft pick to the Orlando Magic for the rights to Brendan Haywood, a rookie center from North Carolina.

"We are excited to bulk up our front line," Wizards president of basketball operations Michael Jordan said in a statement. "Brendan brings height and shot-blocking ability to the Wizards. His defensive presence will also be felt when he is on the floor."

The Cleveland Cavaliers selected the 7-foot, 268-pound Haywood with the 20th overall pick in the 2001 NBA Draft, then traded his rights to Orlando for Michael Doleac.

At North Carolina, Haywood developed a reputation as an underachiever. He was out of shape at times, and his weight often went as high as 280 pounds. Over four seasons he averaged 10.0 points and 6.0 rebounds. Haywood, who was named an honorable mention All-American as a senior, finished as the ACC's all-time field goal percentage leader, making more than 63 percent of his shots. Haywood also distinguished himself as a shot blocker, rejecting a school-record 304 shots.

Still, Haywood projected as a potential lottery pick following his junior season picked up a reputation among NBA scouts and personnel people as being a "soft" player. He is viewed as a project who needs to get substantially stronger.

However, Haywood could find playing time in Washington next season. Jahidi White is the closest thing to a legitimate center on the roster right now, and he is only 6-9. The Wizards also could use Christian Laettner at center. However, Laettner prefers to play power forward, where he has played for most of his nine seasons in the NBA.

Profit, acquired by the Wizards from the Magic in 1999 for a second-round pick, had been a disappointment to the Wizards. The team hoped Profit, an athletic player whose defensive game was ahead of his offense, would develop faster than he did.

In limited playing time, Profit averaged just 1.5 points in his rookie season. He showed some improvement down the stretch when the Wizards, winners of just 19 games, were forced to play him more due to injuries. Profit averaged 4.3 points in 32 games.

Profit had the best game of his career against Houston late in the season, scoring 18 points, grabbing eight rebounds and handing out seven assists.

Profit's contract is guaranteed for one more season at $508,000.

The Magic can take Washington's first-round draft choice beginning in 2004, but the Wizards can keep the pick if it is among the first 20. The next season, it is protected through No. 13, and in 2006 it is protected only through the first three spots. If Orlando waits until 2007, the pick would be unconditional.

* The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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