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Heat trade Antoine Walker to Wolves
By TIM REYNOLDS, AP Sports Writer
Oct 25, 2007 - 6:55:39 AM

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Antoine Walker's turbulent time with the Miami Heat is over. The Heat traded the three-time All-Star forward to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday in a five-player deal that came one day after Miami completed a winless preseason.

Miami Heat forward Antoine Walker, top, crashes into Indiana Pacers forward Mike Dunleavy as he shoots in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Indianapolis, in this March 23, 2007 filoe photo. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Walker, backup center Michael Doleac, oft-injured forward Wayne Simien and a conditional first-round draft pick were sent to Minnesota for former Miami swingman Ricky Davis and center Mark Blount.

The deal gives Miami the third scoring option it wanted in Davis. The Heat will try to fit him in alongside Shaquille O'Neal and Dwyane Wade — the 2006 finals MVP who'll miss a few more weeks while recovering from knee and shoulder surgeries.

Walker helped the Heat win the 2006 NBA title but hasn't always had the easiest time dealing with Heat coach Pat Riley's strict conditioning standards. He was briefly suspended last year because his body-fat measurement wasn't within team limits, and he came to training camp this month not in the shape Riley wanted.

"It's always difficult to get traded," said Mark Bartelstein, Walker's agent. "It's well-documented there were issues between Pat and Antoine that were out there hanging over everyone's head."

Walker did not play in Miami's final two preseason games. Riley said he kept him out of Tuesday's exhibition finale because, "I know what he can do."

So he'll do it for Minnesota now — or, perhaps, someone else.

The Timberwolves now have 18 players under contract and vice president for basketball operations Kevin McHale said another move is coming to trim the roster — indicating not all the new pieces will actually report to Minnesota.

"We have some other stuff that we're probably going to do inside this deal," McHale said. "A lot of business going on."

McHale said the deal was agreed to shortly after midnight Wednesday, or just a couple hours after Miami's preseason ended with a loss to San Antonio.

The Heat planned to bring Davis and Blount in for physicals with the hope they can practice Thursday. Miami was off Wednesday and players and coaches were not available for comment.

Walker averaged career-lows of 8.5 points, 4.3 rebounds and 23.3 minutes last season for Miami, making only 15 starts. Walker came off the bench only 15 times in his first nine NBA seasons; he was a backup 126 times in 160 regular-season games with the Heat.

"He was part of that championship run, but the last year's been difficult," Bartelstein said. "There's always a lot of emotions. But it's part of the business that we're in and I think Antoine wants to have a great season. He's worked really hard."

Walker — who did not immediately return a call Wednesday — bristled earlier this season when his conditioning became an issue once again.

"We'll see when the time comes. Just got to play ball," Walker said after a preseason game two weeks ago. "Until then, it's October. I'll just keep working to get better and get in the best shape possible for Nov. 1. I'll be ready to go Nov. 1."

He is owed about $18 million over the next two seasons; the Timberwolves could opt out of his contract after that.

"Hopefully he comes in and is a professional," McHale said. "I know the last three or four weeks down in Miami haven't been all that pleasant."

Davis only appeared in seven games with Miami during the 2000-01 season, his year wrecked by injuries.

But he's been a solid scorer with Cleveland, Boston and Minnesota in recent years, averaging 16.0 points per game since leaving Miami — and is coming off a season where he hit a career-high 40 percent of his 3-point tries, another area where the Heat could use some help.

Blount, who is due about $8 million annually for the next three years, averaged 12.3 points and 6.2 rebounds last season for Minnesota.

"I think it's going to allow the emergence or the ability for the emergence for some of these guys to step up and see who has leadership ability and have an understanding of what we're talking about, that we have to have a cohesiveness in the locker room," Minnesota coach Randy Wittman said.

Doleac was Miami's third-string center behind O'Neal and Alonzo Mourning, and Simien's career has been largely derailed so far by knee injuries and a nasty bout with salmonella poisoning that kept him off the floor for most of last season.

Minnesota will get a first-round pick from Miami sometime before 2011. The pick is lottery-protected in 2008, protected through the No. 10 selection in 2009, through the No. 6 slot in 2010 and not protected thereafter.

The trade means the Timberwolves have just three players who've been with the team more than one season: Mark Madsen, Rashad McCants and Marko Jaric.


AP Sports Writers Jon Krawczynski and Dave Campbell in Minnesota contributed to this report.

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