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Wright traded for $42-million

Lorenzen Wright wanted to become a former Los Angeles Clipper so badly that at one point he was willing to take less money with less security just to leave the franchise.

The Clippers were so determined to stay with their rebuilding plan that they were prepared to let Wright leave without getting anything in return.

But after several weeks of posturing, a deal was reached Sunday that left both sides happy as Wright was traded by the Clippers to the Atlanta Hawks for two 2000 first-round draft picks, belonging to the Hawks and the Toronto Raptors.

Wright, who turned down a six-year, $30-million offer from the Clippers and came close to accepting a one-year, $2-million deal with the Lakers, agreed to a seven-year, $42-million contract with the Hawks, starting at $4.4-million next season.

"I was kind of down a little because I thought the trade might not happen," said Wright, who had been discussed in a deal with Atlanta involving guard Jimmy Jackson early last week only to have the Hawks pull the deal off the table.

Robert Fayne, Wright's agent, said the trade brings the former Memphis standout closer to home, a key throughout the free-agent signing process for Wright, who spurned the Lakers' salary cap exception offer.

"We're happy that a sign-and-trade deal could be done that allowed Lorenzen to become a member of the Atlanta Hawks," Fayne said. "And, to play for a contending team that is only a six-hour drive from where he grew up.

Wright, who backed up center Michael Olowokandi and power forward Maurice Taylor for most of last season, will compete with Alan Henderson, who missed last season's playoffs because of an eye injury that has been slow to heal, for the starting power forward position with the Hawks.

Atlanta has had a drastic make-over since being knocked out in the second round of the playoffs by the New York Knicks. Mookie Blaylock, Steve Smith and Ed Gray have been traded and Grant Long is not expected to be re-signed. In their place, the Hawks drafted Jason Terry, Dion Glover and Cal Bowlder; acquired Isaiah Rider and Jackson; and now have added Wright, who they've given a strong commitment.

"A team does not give up two first-round draft choices and then compensate a player like the way the Hawks did with Lorenzen if they didn't plan for him to be an integral part of their franchise," Fayne said.

The Clippers now have three 2000 first-round picks to work with as they continue to look for deals to bring in a point guard and a possible big man to back up Olowokandi and Taylor this season.