PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Even if Shawn Kemp never soars again like he did as a high-flying 20-year-old, the Portland Trail Blazers think he can help them get past the Los Angeles Lakers and into the NBA Finals.
Kemp, overweight and unwanted in Cleveland, was traded Wednesday to the Blazers, who re-signed Brian Grant and shipped him to Miami.
"It gives us a guy who can bring Shaq outside, get boards and give six fouls," said Portland guard Steve Smith, practicing with the U.S. national team in Hawaii. "We've got so many guys. We're the other Dream Team."
Under terms of the deal, previously made public but finally meeting league approval, Grant signed a seven-year, $86 million deal with the Blazers. In exchange for Grant, the Heat sent Chris Gatling and Clarence Weatherspoon, along with a first-round draft choice and cash, to the Cavaliers.
Cleveland also gets Portland's 36-year-old backup point guard, Gary Grant, who almost certainly will be cut.
The Blazers are taking a risk on Kemp, and not just because he's due to make $71in the next four years. Owner Paul Allen treats the salary cap like that glass guitar he smashed at the opening of his rock 'n' roll museum. It's the off-court Kemp that raises doubts.
The 30-year-old forward regularly arrived late for home games, team meetings and flights in Cleveland, failing to be the type of role model the Cavs wanted their young players to learn from.
Blazers general manager Bob Whitsitt, in charge of the Seattle SuperSonics when Kemp led them to the finals in 1996, thinks a fresh start back in the Pacific Northwest will help Kemp turn it around.
"He's had a great career and still has good games in him," Whitsitt said. "He's done everything a guy can do in the NBA, but win a championship. He's hungry for it."
The 6-foot-10 Kemp topped out at 317 pounds before training camp last fall. The added weight grounded Kemp, once tabbed "Reign Man" for his ferocious dunks. Too often last season he was forced to adjust his shot or just had it blocked.
Still, he had a decent season statistically. He played in all 82 games, averaging 17.8 points and 8.8 rebounds. But he shot a career-low 41.7 percent and was a liability at the defensive end.
Whitsitt said he hasn't asked Kemp how much he weighs.
"Clearly, I expect him to be in shape to play, and I know he will. If you look at what he did last year, you have to be an athlete in good shape to do that. I expect him to come in ready to play. That's not an issue to me."
Replacing Brian Grant won't be easy for Kemp, at least not right away. Grant's dreadlocks and Bob Marley tattoo, combined with his intense will to win, made him a fan favorite. Grant also endeared himself by befriending terminally ill children and taking on other charitable causes.
Fans were stunned when Grant voided the final four years and $40 million on his contract and became a free agent. But Grant knew he could land a blockbuster payday, and he was certain Whitsitt would trade him to Cleveland for Kemp.
"Brian wanted to make sure he was playing for a team that had a chance to win a championship, a team where he would play a major role and he would be the starting power forward, with a great coach and a terrific city," said Mark Bartelstein, Grant's agent. "Miami has all that covered and more."
Grant never admitted it, but he also was bitter about stepping aside while Rasheed Wallace had a breakout season at the same position, power forward. After averaging a career-low 7.3 points and 5.5 rebounds in the regular season, Grant's numbers fell off in the playoffs.
In the seven-game series against the Los Angeles Lakers, he averaged just 4.4 points, and he played just eight minutes in the dramatic Game 7.
"He's got a lot to prove, and he's looking forward to proving it," Bartelstein said. "He's got a lot of pride, and it hurt him to go through what he went through last season."
Grant, 28, was courted by the New York Knicks and Cleveland, but Miami had the best chance of making the salaries work out. He made about $7.7 million with the Blazers last season. The Lakers also were interested, but the most they could afford was the $2.25 million exception.
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