Local News

Lakers Acquire Rice From Hornets in Blockbuster Deal

Posted March 9, 1999

— The retooling of the Los Angeles Lakers was completed Wednesday. Now, it will be determined if the makeover results in the championship they so badly desire.

The Lakers, believing they were in need of an accurate outside shooter, acquired one of the NBA's best in Glen Rice from the Charlotte Hornets along with forward J.R. Reid and reserve point guard B.J. Armstrong.

In return, the Hornets receive All-Star guard Eddie Jones and center Elden Campbell.

To make room on the respective rosters, the Lakers waived reserve forward Corie Blount and the Hornets waived forward Joe Wolf.

The blockbuster deal, rumored for over a month, was made on the eve of the league's trade deadline.

``It's a very difficult thing to trade such good players, and especially so when they are such quality people,'' said Jerry West, the Lakers' executive vice president for basketball operations. ``But in Glen Rice, we feel we've acquired the best shooter in the NBA and also one of the league's best players.

``We feel this takes us one step closer to our ultimate goal of having an NBA championship team.''

The Lakers, who reached the Western Conference finals last May before being swept by the Utah Jazz, are going for their first championship since 1988 and the days of Showtime, orchestrated by Magic Johnson.

They won five titles during the 1980s.

The 25 percent turnover of their roster followed by two weeks the firing of coach Del Harris and hiring of Kurt Rambis as his successor, as well as the signing of forward Dennis Rodman, the NBA's leading rebounder for the last seven seasons.

Center Shaquille O'Neal, the NBA's No. 2 scorer, had said he hoped to be joined by a thuggish rebounder and pure outside shooter. Now, he's gotten both.

Rice, 31, hasn't played this season following surgery to remove loose particles from his right (shooting) elbow in late January.

A 6-foot-8 forward, Rice has averaged 20.8 points and 4.8 rebounds in nine NBA seasons, six with Miami and the last three with Charlotte. He averaged 22.3 points last season to rank sixth in the league.

He figures to step in at small forward for the Lakers, with Kobe Bryant moving from that spot to shooting guard, replacing Jones.

The Lakers reportedly were willing to give Rice a new contract, although terms were not immediately available.

A three-time All-Star, Rice has made 1,216 3-point shots, third in league history, and is 101 points shy of the 15,000-point mark.

Reid, 30, was Charlotte's No. 2 scorer this season, averaging 14.5 points in 15 games. The 6-foot-10 Reid was taken immediately after Rice in the 1989 draft - fifth overall - and has career averages of 8.7 points and 5.2 rebounds.

Armstrong, 31, was the 18th overall selection in the 1989 draft and has averaged 10.2 points and 3.4 assists.

The trade comes three days after the resignation of Hornets coach Dave Cowens, who was unhappy with his salary. Charlotte won over 50 games each of the last two seasons and made the playoffs, but was just 5-11 this year entering Wednesday night's game at Philadelphia.

Hornets general manager Bob Bass pointed to the team's injuries in making the move. Rice is one of three starters either out for the year or sidelined for significant stretches due to injuries.

``With all of our injuries this season, this trade really gives our team two quality starters and a chance to compete for a playoff spot,'' Bass said. ``It has greatly improved our team.''

The 6-6 Jones, an All-Star the last two years playing in his fifth NBA season, has established himself as one of the league's better 3-point shooters and defenders and was one of the most popular Lakers players, often eliciting the chant of ``Ed-die, Ed-die'' from fans at the Forum.

Jones, 27, led the Lakers in steals in each of his first four seasons, and ranked seventh in the NBA in 3-pointers last year, when he also was placed on the league's all-defensive second team.

``Jones is a premier scorer and defender in this league,'' Bass said. ``We are excited to get this all-star caliber player.''

Jones' name came up in several trade rumors the last couple of years, and he wasn't shy about saying how sick he became because of the speculation.

In fact, after scoring 16 points in a 103-99 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night, he said, ``If it (a trade) doesn't happen, it (speculation) will just start up again on July 1 (the first day of the free-agent signing period). ... It's been mentally draining, the whole thing.''

Campbell, 30, a 7-footer who played college ball at Clemson, has shown flashes of brilliance since the Lakers made him a first-round draft pick in 1990.

However, he was one of the most unpopular Lakers, due mainly to inconsistency and, perhaps, because of a seven-year, $49 million contract signed before the 1996-97 season.

Many have thought a trade of Campbell would be addition by subtraction, but it was speculated that few teams would be interested in his contract.

However, Campbell has been at his best in the last couple of years when getting a chance to start regularly at center, which happened when O'Neal missed substantial playing time due to injury.

Last season, for example, he averaged 10.1 points and 5.6 rebounds in 81 games, but 15.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in the 28 games he started.

Hornets coach Paul Silas, who replaced Cowens, said before the game at Philadelphia he was ``elated'' with the trade.

``It will make us a lot more athletic,'' Silas said. ``The biggest plus is Elden Campbell is our center, and Derrick Coleman will now play (power forward). We have a real good starting lineup now.

``Eddie Jones can play forward or guard, and he wants to be here. That's a big plus. I've known him for years, and he's a fine young man. To get an All-Star like him is just great.''

The Hornets said Jones will play his first game for them Friday night in Washington, and Campbell will make his Charlotte debut Sunday at New York against the Knicks.

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