DALLAS (AP) - The Dallas Mavericks traded power forward Danny Fortson to the Seattle SuperSonics for Calvin Booth, bringing back the 7-footer they
once thought might help solve their woes at center.
The deal is a perfect fit for both clubs. Dallas is focused on improving its defense and Booth is an excellent shot-blocker. The Sonics were the NBA's
worst rebounding team last season and Fortson has twice been among the league's best in that category. Their salaries also were nearly identical, with
both of their contracts running through the 2006-07 season.
"Calvin wanted and needed a change of address and I think Danny did too," Seattle coach Nate McMillan said.
Booth initially came to Dallas with Juwan Howard at the trade deadline in 2001. He played well the final 15 regular-season games, then in the playoffs
hit one of the most memorable shots in team history, a short jumper with 9.8 seconds left that won a first-round series over Utah. The Mavericks had
trailed 0-2 in that best-of-five series and were down 17 late in that game.
"When he was with the Mavs, it was probably his best year as a pro," said Donnie Nelson, Dallas' president of basketball operations. "We're hoping to
recapture some of that magic."
Dallas had hoped to re-sign Booth that offseason, but Seattle offered more than the Mavericks could because of the salary cap. He never lived up to
expectations with the Sonics, partly because of injuries and a shift in the team's playing style.
Booth never averaged more than 6.2 points, 3.9 rebounds and 18.6 minutes, while missing 113 games. He played 71 games last season, starting 35. He
averaged 4.9 points and 3.9 rebounds, and led the team with 1.42 blocks.
"He was professional and gave us what he had, but we needed something different because the face of the team changed," McMillan said.
During his first stint in Dallas, Booth averaged 7.5 points on 55% shooting, 4.8 rebounds and 2.0 blocks. Coach Don Nelson envisioned the former Big
Ten defensive player of the year fitting in nicely as a complementary player to the team's perimeter scorers. Four years later, he'll finally get to
find out, although the 28-year-old Booth will have to fight for playing time with Shawn Bradley, Christian Laettner and rookie Pavel Podkolzin.
"Calvin adds a real nice piece to our center bullpen," Donnie Nelson said. "He's the perfect age as far as productive centers go, he's played well in
Nellie's system and he's a great guy in the locker room."
Fortson was acquired last summer along with Antawn Jamison for Nick Van Exel. The burly rebounding specialist was never able to stay in coach Don
Nelson's rotation. Fortson averaged just 11.2 minutes over 56 games, with 3.9 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. He was fourth in the NBA in rebounding
in both the 1998-99 and 2001-02 seasons.
"This gives us the flexibility to do a lot of things at the forward spot," Seattle general manager Rick Sund said.