NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Hornets, Suns and Timberwolves have agreed to a multiplayer trade sending 7-foot center Robin Lopez and forward Hakim Warrick from Phoenix to New Orleans, while moving forward Wesley Johnson and a first-round draft pick from Minnesota to Phoenix, a person familiar with the deal said.
The person told The Associated Press about the trade on condition of anonymity Wednesday because it has not been announced pending the completion of some routine logistical matters.
The deal also sends guard Jerome Dyson and retiring center Brad Miller’s $5.1 million contract from New Orleans to Minnesota, allowing the Timberwolves to clear space under the NBA’s salary cap as they pursue free agents. Minnesota also will receive two second-round draft picks from New Orleans, while the Hornets will receive cash.
Minnesota general manager David Kahn declined to confirm the deal when asked about it on a conference call Wednesday, saying only that he is “not allowed to comment on anything that hasn’t been consummated.”
The acquisition of Lopez fills a need at center for the Hornets, who traded away Emeka Okafor and let Chris Kaman go in free agency.
While the Hornets were able to draft 6-11 Kentucky star Anthony Davis first overall in last month’s draft, Davis is expected to play often at power forward because his slender build could leave him at a defensive disadvantage in one-on-one matchups against some of the league’s more powerful centers such as Dwight Howard or Andrew Bynum.
The Hornets also have 7-footer Jason Smith on the roster, and while he has filled in at center well when called upon, he has been primarily a reserve power forward during his career.
New Orleans now has made two trades to acquire new front court players, having also dealt forward Gustavo Ayon to Orlando for 6-10 sharpshooter Ryan Anderson, a perimeter threat who can space out an opposing defense.
Lopez was drafted 15th overall by the Suns in 2008. Before that, he starred at Stanford with his twin brother, Brook, now a starter with Brooklyn Nets.
Robin Lopez has been an off-and-on starter in the NBA and was a reserve for all 64 games in which he appeared last season, averaging 5.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 0.7 blocks in 14 minutes a game.
Warrick, a former Syracuse standout now entering his eighth season, started periodically in Memphis early in his career, but played a reserve role the past two seasons in Phoenix. For his career, he has averaged 9.5 points and 4.1 rebounds in 20.4 minutes.
The 6-7 Johnson is entering his third season in the NBA out of Syracuse. He has averaged 7.7 points and 2.9 rebounds in 24.6 minutes in his young career.
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