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Trail Blazers Trade Wells to Memphis

December 3, 2003

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) _ Volatile forward Bonzi Wells was traded by the Portland Trail Blazers to the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday for guard Wesley Person and a conditional 2004 first-round draft pick.

Wells, averaging 12.2 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists, was stripped of his co-captaincy and suspended two games earlier this season for cursing at coach Maurice Cheeks.

Wells also was fined last month for making an obscene gesture at a fan after a loss to Philadelphia. Last March, Wells was suspended one game for conduct considered detrimental to the team.

``We are very hopeful that this opportunity provides a fresh start for Bonzi in Memphis, and that he enjoys joining a rising young team in the Grizzlies,″ Memphis president Jerry West said. ``We’re very optimistic Bonzi will provide a significant presence in our lineup.″

Portland gets Person, who has averaged 11.8 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.8 assists in his 10-year career. With his role limited this season, Wells was averaging only 5.2 points.

If the Grizzlies’ first-round pick next June is among the top three selections, they will keep it and give the Trail Blazers their top pick in 2005 _ provided it is not the overall No. 1 pick. If the selection rolls over to 2006, Portland will get it unconditionally.

Portland entered Wednesday night’s home game against the Indiana Pacers with an 8-7 record, tied for fourth place in the Pacific Division.

Memphis, 8-8 going into its game against the New Jersey Nets, is last in the Midwest Division.

The trade comes as the Blazers try to repair an image tarnished by several player arrests and team infighting. the latest instance coming Tuesday when forward Zach Randolph was arrested for allegedly driving under the influence of marijuana.

It is hoped Person will provide some of the veteran leadership the team lost when Scottie Pippen left for the Chicago Bulls as a free agent in the offseason.

Wells was in his sixth season with the Blazers and has a year left on his contract, plus a team option for another year. Person is in the final season of his contract.

He has at times showed flashes of brilliance, including a 45-point performance in Game 2 of the team’s first-round playoff series against the Dallas Mavericks last season. But Wells also developed a troubled reputation.

He was suspended early last season by the league for spitting on San Antonio forward Danny Ferry, then was suspended for two games for his role in a postgame scuffle with the Golden State Warriors.

``We are happy to be getting a quality player and individual in Wesley Person, a veteran who can help provide leadership on the court and in the locker room, as well as a draft pick which will help the organization in the future,″ Blazers general manager John Nash said.

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