Given their troubles with Latrell Sprewell, the Golden State Warriors knew it was going to be tough to trade Joe Smith, a former No. 1 draft pick and one of the team's best and most popular players.
On Tuesday, the Warriors made their move, sending Smith and guard Brian Shaw to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for guard Jim Jackson and forward Clarence Weatherspoon.Smith, in the final year of an $8.53 million, three-year deal, was Golden State's second-leading scorer behind the suspended Sprewell. He was averaging 17.3 points - down from 18.7 last season - and 6.9 rebounds.
The 6-foot-10 forward was happy with his new team.
"It's a good, young team," he said. "Once we get gelling, we're going to have a good future."
The NBA's No. 1 draft pick in 1995, Smith will be a free agent at the end of this season. He reportedly turned down a four-year, $40 million contract this summer.
In the end, Golden State general manager Garry St. Jean said he and assistant GM Gary Fitzsimmons did what they felt was best for the Warriors, both in terms of the salary cap and the future success of the team.
"Gary and I both knew this was a diffifcult situation coming in here, obviously, with the Sprewell situation," St. Jean said.
Warriors forward Donyell Marshall said the team would miss Smith, who was one of Sprewell's close friends. Sprewell's contract was terminated by the Warriors and he was suspended by the NBA for attacking coach P.J. Carlesimo during practice Dec. 1.
"We knew something was in the works for a while,,' Marshall said before the Warriors fell to the Portland Trail Blazers 101-83 Tuesday night. "You got to do something. Not too many people are happy when you lose."
Jackson, the fourth pick in the 1993 draft by the Dallas Mavericks, was traded for the third time in his career. Dallas traded him to New Jersey, which sent him to the Sixers in the 1997 draft-day deal in which the Nets got the rights to No. 2 pick Keith Van Horn.
A powerfully built shooting guard, Jackson's scoring average has declined every season since a career-high 25.7 with Dallas in 1994-95. He was averaging a career-low 13.7 points for the Sixers, who announced the deal about an hour before tipping off against Cleveland on Tuesday night.
"Jimmy made a lot of sacrifices playing here," Sixers coach Larry Brown said. "He's a quality player and a lot of teams with a chance to win were after him. I think Jimmy has great skills, and we were fortunate to have him."
Jackson and Weatherspoon were not expected to join the Warriors in time for tonight's game against the Charlotte Hornets, but St. Jean said they would likely practice with the team on Thursday. It was uncertain when Smith and Shaw would report to the Sixers.
Weatherspoon, averaging 8.4 points and seven rebounds, was Philadelphia's first pick in the 1992 NBA draft, ninth overall.
Shaw, a 6-6 guard in his ninth season, averaged 6.4 points, 4.4 assists and 3.9 rebounds in 39 games this season for Golden State.
"I like Joe Smith enormously. Brian, I thought, did a very good job this year," Carelsimo said. "But you're not going to get something back unless you give it up. Time will tell, but it's something I know helps us right now, and I think it will help us long-term as well."
St. Jean would not comment on any further deals the Warriors might make, including the report that the team was looking to move Bimbo Coles. But he did say the team was not necessarily finished dealing.