When a trade for Nick Van Exel fell apart, the Boston Celtics wasted no time finding a substitute.
The Celtics, looking ahead to the wide-open Eastern Conference playoffs, acquired veterans Rodney Rogers and Tony Delk in a five-player trade with Phoenix on Wednesday.
Boston sent rookie Joe Johnson and veterans Randy Brown and Milt Palacio -- along with their upcoming first-round draft pick -- to the Suns.
"This deal came down the pike yesterday, and we quickly became very interested," Celtics general manager Chris Wallace said. "This provides some spark for us for the rest of the regular season, and they should make us an even better playoff team."
Van Exel's prospects of being traded were dealt a blow when he refused to waive enough guaranteed money to satisfy the Celtics, who were prepared to make a deal with Denver.
Van Exel had said he would forfeit some of his guaranteed $26.5 million over the final two years of his contract, which runs through the 2004-05 season.
"We've made our big deal," Wallace said.
Meanwhile, Golden State center Marc Jackson expanded his trade list to include Utah, New Jersey, Milwaukee and Seattle.
Jackson has the right to veto any trade, and he has expanded his original list of three acceptable teams -- Memphis, Indiana and Orlando -- to include New York, Philadelphia and Phoenix, along with the Jazz, Nets, Bucks and Sonics.
"I would think there's a good chance he'll probably get traded. That's what he wants, and to a certain degree that's what we want," said Golden State coach Brian Winters.
The NBA trading deadline is 6 p.m. EST.
The Nuggets have received numerous calls from teams wanting them to include center Raef Lafrentz in a deal for Van Exel, but the Nuggets have been trying to find a team that will take Van Exel alone.
"The phone lines are burning," Nuggets general manager Kiki Vandeweghe said. "I think I'm in the same clothes I've been in for a week. I just haven't left the office trying to make something happen."
Other players whose names were being bandied about in trade talks Wednesday included Milwaukee's Jason Caffey, Chicago's Greg Anthony, Seattle's Shammond Williams, New York's Charlie Ward, Marcus Camby and Othella Harrington, Miami's Brian Grant, Dallas' Juwan Howard, Atlanta's Dion Glover and Cleveland's Michael Doleac.
Ward explored the possibility of waiving a trade kicker in his contract that calls for a $2.5 million bonus if he is traded, but was told that would not be allowed, said his agent, Craig McKenzie.
The Bucks, Atlanta Hawks and Minnesota Timberwolves were believed to be the three teams speaking to the Knicks about Ward.
The Suns have been fielding calls regarding Stephon Marbury, including an inquiry from the Knicks last week. It was not clear if the Suns' trade with Boston affected any of their talks with the Knicks or Warriors.
Indiana president Donnie Walsh, who pulled off a seven-player trade with Chicago on Tuesday, was one of the few people predicting a busy deadline day.
"It should be very active. I think there's lots of deals that will go down," Walsh said. "There are plenty of teams out there that want to trade."
The Boston-Phoenix deal gives the Celtics a pair of players who can score from the outside, one of whom, Rogers, also is a muscular addition to Boston's front line.
Johnson, a rookie from Arkansas selected 10th overall in last June's draft, had seen his role reduced in recent weeks.
The surprising Celtics are in second place in the Eastern Conference with a record of 31-23. They are five games behind the Nets, whose president, Rod Thorn, has acknowledged that the team would like to add another big player.
That player could be Jackson, who sat out his 16th consecutive game Wednesday as the Warriors played Philadelphia. He was hoping it would be his final night in a Warriors uniform.
Jackson signed a six-year, $24 million offer sheet with Houston before the start of this season, but he was a restricted free agent, and the Warriors matched the offer. Jackson has the right to veto any deal for one calendar year.
"I'm ready, I'm ready now. Let's get it done," said Jackson, who spent much of the day on the phone with agent Joel Bell. "I told him don't call me anymore until you tell me which team it is."
Jackson said he added the Nets, Bucks, Sonics and Jazz to the list because all are contending teams with needs at the center position.
"I want to play somewhere they can utilize my skills, and I wouldn't mind playing alongside Karl Malone and (John) Stockton," Jackson said. "Milwaukee may need a big man who can play with his back to the basket."
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