Jazz trade 3 guards for Fisher

Published: Thursday, July 6 2006 12:00 a.m. MDT

He is deemed to be an above-average citizen, a harder-than-most worker and an all-around good guy.

He's also not much for guarding quicker players, he'll be 32 years old when next season begins, he has four guaranteed years remaining on his contract and he'll add roughly $25 million in long-term salary to payroll.

Such is the price for filling a void.

The Jazz, it's believed, have agreed to trade for Golden State guard and longtime Los Angeles Laker Derek Fisher — a deal they see as the best route for acquiring some semblance of a sharpshooter, and one that means they're no longer shopping for a big name in the NBA's summer free-agency market.

In exchange, Utah — barring an unforeseen snag — will send guards Keith McLeod, Devin Brown and Andre Owens to Golden State.

Fisher confirmed the trade, telling the Contra Costa (Calif.) Times the deal was "pretty much done."

The father of newborn twins sounded less than thrilled, however.

According to the Times, "Fisher said he wants to stay a Warrior, and that he and his family were just starting to feel at home in the (San Francisco) Bay Area. But he noted he is prepared to go to Utah if the deal goes through."

"I will try to do my job and do the best I can," he told the California newspaper, "whether I'm still with the Warriors or somewhere else."

Fisher, a University of Arkansas-Little Rock product, played his first eight NBA seasons in L.A. and the past two for Golden State.

At 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, he's described as a shooting guard in a point guard's body — with a point's mentality.

In Utah, that means Fisher — said to be hungry for minutes — can back up starter Deron Williams at the point and/or play off-guard, though it's an awfully small, defense-challenged backcourt if he and Williams play together.

Neither the Jazz nor the Warriors commented, as the trade cannot be made official until next Wednesday at the earliest.

That's because Owens is a restricted free agent, and the Jazz need his contract to make the swap conform to NBA salary-matching rules. League free-agency rules also prevent Owens — who probably wouldn't have been re-signed, but now will make at least $664,209 — from completing paperwork before Wednesday.

Fisher's salary next season is $5.88 million, but he has $26.46 million guaranteed on his contract — including $7.35 million for the 2009-2010 season, when he'll be 35.

Utah picked up the $1.4 million option for next season on McLeod's contract last Friday, but when the Jazz did that they also said they might still pursue veteran help at the point.

McLeod spent two seasons in Utah, playing 129 games (59 starts) in the backcourt.

Brown, who'll make about $2.7 million next season, played just one season with the Jazz after signing last summer as a free agent from then NBA-champion San Antonio. He averaged 7.5 points per game mostly off the bench, but never seemed to figure out how to play for coach Jerry Sloan.

Owens, signed last year as an undrafted free agent from the University of Houston, played sparingly in Utah. He appeared in 23 games and missed the season's final 36 with a stress-fractured tibia that required rod-insertion surgery.

It's not known which, if any, of the Jazz players Golden State will keep.

The Warriors made the deal primarily to free playing time behind star Baron Davis for young guard Monta Ellis and to add wiggle room beneath the NBA's payroll luxury-tax threshold for next season and beyond.

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