10.18.2013

Radja Dealt to Sixers

June 21, 1997

In a move that will show its beauty on the balance sheet before the basketball court, the Celtics yesterday traded Dino Radja to Philadelphia for Clarence Weatherspoon and Michael Cage.

The Celts admit the deal could hurt their product in the short run, but the salary cap flexibility gained in the transaction gives them a much greater opportunity in next summer's free agent market -- when the first class of players who signed three-year contracts as rookies will be available.

And there is a very good chance the Celts are not done dealing. With the draft looming Wednesday, the C's are fielding several offers from clubs interested in the No. 3 overall pick (as well as No. 6).

"We obviously made the trade for a number of reasons," said C's coach and president Rick Pitino. "One is cap flexibility and another is that we're getting two players who offer great leadership and can help us shore up our front line. Both are quality basketball players and good people who fit the style we want to play.

"We're giving up a young man

in Dino Radja who's very talented but maybe doesn't fit our style as well as some other people. Although Dino is tall in stature (6-foot-11), he's not a shot blocker. He wasn't someone who could be the last line of defense if you were going to use pressure defense. We don't think he was going to be any more or less effective than Michael Cage."

There is some question if Weatherspoon is suited to Pitino's style, with 76er sources saying he was criticized by coaches for his defensive rotations. The main issue is his size, which has led league observers to label him a frontcourt tweener. He checks in at around 6-4 (not the 6-7 at which he's listed).

But even though Weatherspoon can play - and play hard - the numerology that makes him most enticing can be found on his contract and the fact the deal is up after the coming year.

While Radja has three more seasons left at some $ 5.3 million per, Weatherspoon went from $ 3.3 million for the past season to $ 2.8 for 1997-98. Cage will make a bit more than $ 1.75 million this season, and though he has another year after that at just more than $ 2 million, he would have to achieve certain playing time incentives to guarantee the latter season in full. The Celtics will have the opportunity to buy him out at, according to Pitino, a bit less than $ 1 million.

Radja could actually get a raise if his agent's interpretation of his contract is correct, but Pitino said that, whatever the case, the Celtics are not on the hook for any of his money.

As for the question of whether Radja will accept the trade and move to Philadelphia, Pitino said, "He makes an extraordinary amount of money. He'll be in Philadelphia."

Radja raised the issue in an interview with the Herald three weeks to the day before his trade, saying initially he didn't believe there would be a move at all.

"I don't think there will be any trade, but I probably wouldn't go anyway," Radja said at the time. "I talked to Rick Pitino and he said he doesn't want to trade me. I want to be straight with him, and I want him to be straight with me. And that's the way I think this is. After all the (expletive deleted) that's gone on here, there are some things this team and I have to prove. I've been through too much here to go away now.

"I don't need statistics. I don't need money. I don't need sympathy. I just need wins. If I didn't think we could do that, I wouldn't be here. I would just go back home. I really don't need anything but to win."

Pitino wishes to alter the Celtic roster, as well, and there was some sentiment in the organization that maybe it would be best if Radja were elsewhere.

Though Radja said he was excited about Pitino's arrival and committed to the new system, Pitino responded with skepticism, saying repeatedly that talk was one thing but performance was another.

"We called him in (Thursday) and said we had four different scenarios on tap," Pitino said yesterday. "We wanted to be honest with him. We asked him to stay around and work here this summer, but he said he was going to go back (to Croatia) and would return three days before training camp. That kind of sealed his fate, but that's not to say this wouldn't have happened anyway."

As for the fact the deal might not help the Celts this coming season (the need for size is even more acute now), Pitino pointed to a larger goal.

"We're not trying to go from 15 wins to 22," he said.

"The big picture is how we're going to get back in the playoff and championship drive again. The loss of Dino will hurt us next season, but the cap flexibility we gain could help us get the stars we need down the road."

CAGE'S STATS84-85 LAC      75 .543  .737  5.2   32  7.1

85-86 LAC      78 .479  .649  5.3   34  6.7

86-87 LAC      80 .521  .730 11.5   67 15.7

87-88 LAC      72 .470  .688 13.0   58 14.5

88-89 Sea      80 .498  .743  9.6   52 10.3

89-90 Sea      82 .504  .698 10.0   45  9.7

90-91 Sea      82 .508  .625  6.8   58  6.4

91-92 Sea      82 .566  .620  8.9   55  8.8

92-93 Sea      82 .526  .469  8.0   46  6.1

93-94 Sea      82 .545  .486  5.4   38  4.6

94-95 Cle      82 .521  .602  6.9   67  5.0

95-96 Cle      82 .556  .543  8.9   79  6.0

96-97 Phi      82 .468  .463  3.9   42  1.8

Totals       1041 .516  .619  8.0  673  7.9

PLAYOFFS               G   FG    FT  Reb  Blk  Pts

88-89 Sea      8 .600  .409  5.8    3  7.1

90-91 Sea      5 .429  .765  4.2    2  5.0

91-92 Sea      9 .559 1.000  5.7    8  4.3

92-93 Sea      9 .525  .389  5.8    7  4.8

93-94 Sea      5 .375  .333  5.4    5  2.8

94-95 Cle      4 .444  .000  4.5    4  4.0

95-96 Cle      3 .571  .600  9.3    5  6.3

Totals         53 .523  .493  5.7   34  4.9

WEATHERSPOON'S STATS

REGULAR SEASON

G   FG    FT  Reb  Blk  Pts

92-93 Phi      82 .469  .713  7.2   67 15.6

93-94 Phi      82 .483  .693 10.1  116 18.4

94-95 Phi      76 .439  .751  6.9   67 18.1

95-96 Phi      78 .484  .746  9.7  108 16.7

96-97 Phi      82 .491  .738  8.3   86 12.2

Totals        400 .473  .728  8.4  444 16.2

RADJA'S STATS

REGULAR SEASON

G   FG    FT  Reb  Blk  Pts

93-94 Bos      80 .521  .751  7.2   67 15.1

94-95 Bos      66 .490  .753  8.7   86 17.2

95-96 Bos      53 .500  .695  9.8   81 19.7

96-97 Bos      25 .440  .718  8.4   48 14.0

Totals        224 .488  .729  8.5  282 16.5

PLAYOFFS

G   FG    FT  Reb  Blk  Pts

94-95 Bos      4 .400  .714  7.0    5 15.0

Totals         4 .400  .714  7.0    5 15.0

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