Raptors Trade Trio For Nuggets
TORONTO, Jan. 12-- The Toronto Raptors announced Friday that they have acquired Keon Clark, Tracy Murray and Mamadou N'diaye from the Denver Nuggets in exchange for Kevin Willis, Garth Joseph, Alex Radojevic and a second round draft pick in either 2001 or 2002.
"Keon Clark is a young player with tremendous upside," said Raptors Senior Vice President and General Manager Glen Grunwald. "He has the ability to determine how good he can be, but he's someone who can contribute now as well as in the future. Keon is extremely talented and will provide an injection of energy into our lineup."
The 13th selection of the 1998 NBA Draft by the Orlando Magic, Clark was traded along with Johnny Taylor to the Nuggets for a 1999 first round pick prior to the 1998-99 season. He's logged six career double-doubles, with highs of 29 points vs. Golden State (March 3, 2000) and 22 rebounds at Indiana (March 7, 2000). Highlights this season have included a 16-point scoring effort vs. Chicago (Nov. 16, 2000) and a game-winning field goal with one second left in overtime to beat Minnesota on Nov. 8.
Murray, a 6-7 forward in his ninth NBA season, is averaging 3.8 points and 10.4 minutes in 13 appearances off the Denver bench this season. He was acquired by the Nuggets from Washington last Sept. 25 in exchange for former Raptor Popeye Jones and a second round draft pick. Murray posted season highs of 17 points and five rebounds in 19 minutes at Vancouver on Tuesday, after not playing because of coach's decision in the previous seven contests.
"Tracy Murray gives us another outside shooter, which will help us both on the perimeter as well as helping to spread the floor for us at the offensive end," said Grunwald. "He was a strong performer for us in the past, and was someone who was also a real contributor to our community off the court. His return to Toronto gives him an opportunity that he wasn't getting in Denver, and we look for him to be a welcomed addition to our lineup."
The 18th selection in the first round of the 1992 NBA Draft, Murray signed a free agent contract with Washington following his breakthrough season with Toronto in 1996. In 543 career games, Murray has averaged 10.0 points, 2.8 rebounds and 20.2 minutes, shooting .434 (1993-4587) from the field, .833 (780-936) at the free throw line, and .392 (673-1715) from three-point range. He has knocked down at least 100 three-point field goals four times in his career.
N'diaye (his full name is pronounced MA-ma-do en-JAI) was selected by Denver with the 26th pick in last June's NBA Draft following a four-year college career at Auburn. The 7-foot centre has yet to appear in a regular season game after being placed on the injured list with a right pubic ramus chip/groin strain last Oct. 30. He averaged 4.8 points and 3.0 rebounds in four games with the Nuggets during the Rocky Mountain Revue summer league, and 2.1 points and 3.9 rebounds in eight preseason tilts before suffering the injury.
A native of Dakar, Senegal, N'diaye finished his Auburn career with the three top single-season blocked shot totals in school history. He earned SEC Player of the Week honors once, and was named to the SEC All-Tournament Team en route to leading the Tigers to the NCAA tournament where he recorded 15 points and 11 rebounds in the first round encounter with Creighton. N'diaye grew up playing soccer and has played just five years of organized basketball. He was a member of Senegal's team that competed in Greece during the 1998 FIBA World Championships.
Kevin Willis departs Toronto after averaging 9.1 points, 6.8 rebounds and 23.5 minutes in 156 games with the Raptors. He was acquired June 9, 1998 from Houston in exchange for Roy Rogers and two 1998 first round draft picks. Denver will be the sixth stop in 17 seasons for the 7-foot centre who ranks among the NBA's all-time leaders in total rebounds and offensive rebounds. He's one of only 17 players in NBA history to record 15,000 points and 10,000 rebounds, and now carries averages of 13.6 points (15,965), 9.3 rebounds (10,885), 3.2 offensive rebounds (3767) and 29.6 minutes (34,838) in 1176 games.
"Kevin was a great addition to our team and made valuable contributions when they were most needed," said Grunwald. "He came to Toronto with a commitment to helping to turn our franchise around, and he was successful in his efforts to help make that happen. He showed courage in taking a leadership role two years ago when times were tough, and we will always be grateful for the many contributions he made as we evolved into a playoff team."
Radojevic was the 12th overall selection by the Raptors in the 1999 NBA Draft and showed progress last off-season and this preseason before being felled by season-ending back surgery Oct. 20. He had averaged 2.3 points and 3.5 rebounds in four preseason contests.
The 7-3 native of Montenegro, Yugoslavia appeared in three games during his rookie season with the Raptors, totaling seven points, eight rebounds and 24 minutes. He was placed on the injured list a week into the campaign with a tear in the medial meniscus of his left knee and later underwent back surgery January 6, 2000. He returned for the last two games of the season and recorded six points, eight rebounds and 19 minutes in the April 19 finale at Orlando.
Joseph, a 7-2 centre who made the team as a rookie free agent following a strong performance during training camp, appeared in two games this season, totaling two points and two rebounds in eight minutes. A native of Dominica in the West Indies, Joseph started his professional career in Greece in 1997-98 and played with Atlantic City of the USBL and Manfield and Trenton of the IBL.
Clark, Murray and N'diaye are expected to join the Raptors in time for Sunday evening's game with the Charlotte Hornets. N'diaye has been placed on the Raptors injured list.