McHale, Ainge Discuss Deal for Disgruntled Centers


January 17, 2006

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. According to two league sources, a deal that would send MarkBlount to Minnesota or Memphis could be completed soon. One source described a deal as "imminent." The most likely scenario would have the Celtics shipping Blountto Minnesota for 7-foot, 270-pound center Michael Olowokandi. The Celtics play the Timberwolves tomorrow night at the TD Banknorth Garden.

It is less clear whom the Celtics would receive from the Grizzlies for Blount, if they went that route. Lorenzen Wright , a 6-11 center, might be one possibility because he is in the last year of his contract. Although the salary numbers work, one source said 6-8 Memphis forward Brian Cardinal is not a candidate. 

The Celtics reportedly tried to deal Blount to Memphis last offseason. Memphis was one of the teams that aggressively pursued Blount when he was a free agent.

After an extremely disappointing 2004-05 season, Blount and his agent Mark Bartelstein talked with coach Doc Rivers and executive director of basketball operations Danny Ainge last summer. Blount arrived at training camp determined to reclaim the form he showed when playing for his current six-year, $40 million contract a contract with a 15 percent trade kicker.

Blount was in the starting lineup for the first 11 games this season. But his inconsistent play, particularly on the glass, led Rivers to demote Blount to the bench.Blount did not play (coach's decision) Nov. 25 against Charlotte, and he has bounced between the bench and the starting lineup.

In yesterday's 94-84 loss to the Pistons, Blount scored 12 points (6 for 11) and grabbed 3 rebounds in 31 minutes as the first player off the bench. He also led theCeltics with 4 turnovers. For the season, he is averaging 13.1 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 3.2 turnovers in 29 minutes per game.

If the Celtics complete a deal for Olowokandi, it would put them in a much better position financially. Blount is making $5.5 million this season and has four years remaining on his deal; Olowokandi, who is making close to $6 million, will become a free agent this summer.

The Celtics could waive Olowokandi, who is averaging 6.5 points and 5.6 rebounds in 24 minutes per game.

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