Cavs Ready To Dump Shawn Kemp

Saturday, August 12th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CLEVELAND (AP) — Apparently, the Cleveland Cavaliers won't wait to see if Shawn Kemp comes to training camp in shape this season.

They're ready to dump Kemp and his ample, four-year, $70.8 million contract now.

The Cavs have reportedly agreed in principle to a three-team deal with Miami and Portland that will send Kemp, a six-time All-Star who has been overweight the past two seasons, to the Trail Blazers.

Two newspapers are reporting that Portland will sign forward Brian Grant to a seven-year, $90 million deal and send the free agent to Miami.

The Heat, in turn, will ship forwards Chris Gatling and Clarence Weatherspoon to Cleveland, which could also end up with a draft pick and Blazers guard Gary Grant.

Grant's agent, Mark Bartelstein, told The Associated Press on Friday that ``nothing has been finalized.''

``There's nothing new,'' Bartelstein said. ``There are a lot of factors that still have to be worked out. Miami is a team that Brian is very interested in. But there are a lot of issues.''

Gatling, meanwhile, isn't pleased that Heat coach Pat Riley hasn't told him he might be traded for the fourth time in a year.

``Pat Riley is a coward,'' Gatling said. ``Be a man and tell me.''

Citing team policy, Cavs general manager Jim Paxson refused to comment specifically on the rumored trade, saying, ``we are always looking for concrete ways to improve the team.''

Evidently, that now includes Cleveland trading its best player.

Kemp's agent, Tony Dutt, did not immediately return a phone message left by the AP seeking comment. But Dutt did speak to the Oregonian, and indicated Kemp was pleased with the chance to play elsewhere.

``This would be a tremendous opportunity for Shawn,'' Dutt said. ``We're happy and pleased.''

In a statement released on his Web site, Kemp, who is in Los Angeles, sounded as if he's accepted the idea of leaving Cleveland.

``I'd be crazy not to want to be traded at this point, especially after the team has tried to trade me,'' Kemp said. ``I would love to play for another championship, the team doesn't matter.''

It's been no secret that the Cavs have been disappointed with Kemp and have been trying to deal him.

With the Cavs needing a role model for its young players, Kemp has instead been a problem child.

He's arrived for training camp overweight the past two years, supposedly tipping the scales at 317 pounds last fall. Ignoring fines, he's been late for practices, pregame meetings and team flights.

He pouted last season when things didn't go his way, and showed little respect for rookie head coach Randy Wittman.

Kemp, who will make $46.5 million in the final two years of his contract, pledged things would be different this season in Cleveland.

However, it looks like he'll have to prove it somewhere else.

Kemp was considered something of a savior when he came to the Cavs in a three-way deal in 1997. Nicknamed the ``Reign Man'', he was one of the NBA's budding superstars.

In 1998, he averaged 18 points and 9.3 rebounds during the regular season and led the young Cavs to the playoffs. Kemp nearly beat the Indiana Pacers single-handedly in the postseason, getting 26 points and 10. 3 rebounds per game.

But he spent most of the lockout-shortened '99 season trying to play himself into shape. And although his numbers didn't show it — 20.5 points, 9.2 rebounds per game — his game was suffering.

This past season was Kemp's worst in his 11-year career.

A step slower and unable to get off the floor like before with the added weight, the 30-year-old Kemp rarely blew past defenders to deliver one of his thundering, two-handed dunks.

Instead, he'd double- and triple-pump underneath trying to draw fouls. He averaged 17.8 points while shooting a career-low 41.7 percent and his streak of six straight All-Star berths was snapped.

On defense, Kemp frequently picked up silly fouls and finished the season leading the league with 371 personals and fouled out 13 times. He was also third in the league with 291 turnovers — a mind-boggling number for a power forward.

Cleveland is rebuilding, and if they can free themselves of Kemp's contract, the Cavs would have more financial freedom with which to improve.

They can't afford Kemp's attitude or salary any longer.

It's somebody else's turn.