After shipping Adrian Dantley to the Eastern Conference 21/2 years ago, the Jazz find him right back in the Midwest Division. Detroit sent Dantley, the Jazz's all-time leading scorer, and a No. 1 draft choice to Dallas for Mark Aguirre.

Before the deal was completed Wednesday, the Jazz tried unsuccessfully to join in a three-way trade, at a minor level. General Manager David Checketts has until the Feb. 23 trading deadline in his apparent search for a guard.The Dallas-Detroit deal is still meaningful to the Jazz, for several reasons:

- Frank Layden is off the hook. Layden, who engineered the trade of Dantley to Detroit for Kelly Tripucka in August 1986 while coaching the Jazz, now has evidence that Dantley is difficult to handle. If Detroit's Chuck Daly, known as a players' coach, had had enough of Dantley, maybe Layden's move was justified after keeping A.D. for seven years.

"I find it interesting that Detroit decided to do something like that, after going to the NBA Finals," said Jazz co-captain Mark Eaton.

Asked about reported conflicts with Dantley, Daly told the Dallas Times-Herald, "Not necessarily; I had no problems with Adrian, other than the ordinary problems every coach has with every player."

Layden's reaction: "I really don't care."

- Tripucka, since traded to Charlotte for Mike Brown, was obviously about all the Jazz could have received for Dantley, by this logic: According to a high-ranking Mavericks official, Aguirre had the least trade value of any former NBA All-Star, so that says something about Dantley.

"It'll give each (player) a new lease for a while, but ultimately I don't think either team will be any better off," said Eaton. "I think it's a temporary fix for both teams."

Interestingly, sources say that two other teams took offers for Aguirre off the table Feb. 1, the morning after he warmed up for a game against the Jazz in Dallas but left the floor, complaining of sore ankles. His 32 points against thge Jazz in the Salt Palace last week helped cement the trade.

- Dantley aside, losing Aguirre may straighten out Dallas. The Mavs are only 21/2 games behind the Jazz, and Midwest Division insiders have always said the day the Mavs traded Aguirre would be the day the other teams really had to start worrying about them.

"I really believe that," said Checketts. "So many of their players were just anxious for Aguirre to go - it'll really help their chemistry . . . I was glad they made no changes last summer."

Rick Sund, the Mavs' vice-president/basketball operations, asked Checketts' advice about Dantley before making the deal. Checketts mildly endorsed Dantley, in contrast to Aguirre's moodiness, telling Sund, "He's going to play hard every night . . . he just wants to be left alone and play."

- Dantley will now face the Jazz six times in the regular season. Only two games are left this year, April 4 in the Salt Palace and April 21 in Dallas, but the teams could meet in the Western Conference playoffs, maybe even in the first round. With two months left in the season, almost any playoff pairing is possible in the jumbled West.

"(Dantley) wants to get back at us," said Checketts. "I think Adrian will help them. There's more of a spot on that team for a low-post scorer."

Dantley has averaged 17.0 points in four games for Detroit against the Jazz. The Jazz and Pistons have yet to meet this season; they play twice next month.