INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Indiana Pacers president Donnie Walsh insisted he wasn’t shopping Jalen Rose, but would listen to offers.
He heard one he liked yesterday.
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.
“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 yesterday 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.”
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.