Here it is - a big man who played in more than 8 games last season! Keith Van Horn is gone, Mutombo replaces MacCulloch, Richard Jefferson starts next season, and the Nets acquire a big man that Jason Kidd wanted that will persuade him to stay in New Jersey.
Sixers deal Mutombo for Van Horn, MacCulloch
The Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA -- In a major trade involving the past two Eastern Conference champions, the Philadelphia 76ers sent center Dikembe Mutombo to the New Jersey Nets on Tuesday in exchange for Keith Van Horn and Todd MacCulloch, The Associated Press learned.
The deal, confirmed by numerous Eastern Conference officials, represents a major shakeup along the front line for both teams. It was to be officially announced Tuesday evening.
Mutombo, a 7-foot-2 center who led the NBA in rebounding in 1999-00 and 2000-01, was acquired by the 76ers at the trading deadline in 2001 and helped them reach the NBA Finals. He signed a lucrative extension prior to the 2001-02 season and is due to receive almost $54 million over the next three seasons.
Mutombo will play center for New Jersey in place of MacCulloch, who was a teammate of Mutombo's in Philadelphia before signing with the Nets a year ago as a free agent. The center position was a weak spot for the Nets when they reached the NBA Finals in June and were unable to stop Shaquille O'Neal of the Lakers.
Van Horn was chosen by Philadelphia with the overall No. 2 pick in the 1997 draft but was immediately shipped to the Nets in an eight-player trade. He averaged a career-low 14.8 points per game last season and was conspicuously ineffective during several postseason games.
Although the 76ers are giving up one of the game's best defenders and rebounders, they are reacquiring a player who is coming off his best professional season. MacCulloch, a native of Canada, averaged 9.7 points and 6.1 rebounds in 62 games -- missing 20 games because of a foot injury that also will keep him out of the upcoming World Championships.
The addition of Van Horn gives the 76ers another scorer who can -- at least in theory -- take some of the offensive burden off Allen Iverson. Since Iverson was drafted in 1996, the 76ers have tried to use Jerry Stackhouse, Tim Thomas, Larry Hughes, Toni Kukoc and others in that role.
Van Horn, a gifted shooter whose toughness has been questioned, averaged a career-high 21.8 points for New Jersey in 1999. He was among the longest-tenured members of the Nets, who made it to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history after joining the league 26 years ago.
Mutombo has spent 11 seasons in the NBA with Denver, Atlanta and Philadelphia, leading the league in blocked shots in 1993-94, 1994-95 and 1995-96 and rebounding in 1999-00 and 2000-01.
Mutombo averaged only 8.8 points in the 76ers' first-round playoff loss to Boston last April.