WASHINGTON — WASHINGTON - All the rumors swirling around MCI Center were confirmed last night, as the Wizards dealt Wisconsin guard Devin Harris and forwards Jerry Stackhouse and Christian Laettner to the Dallas Mavericks for forward Antawn Jamison and cash considerations.
The Wizards selected Harris, the 2003-04 Big Ten Player of the Year, as the No. 5 pick in the NBA draft.
With the deal, the Wizards hope to cash in this season on talent, rather than wait for it to develop. The Wizards suffered through a 37-45 season with one of the youngest teams in the league as nine Wizards had two or fewer years of NBA experience.
"It was important for us to get a veteran player who will give it to you every single night on a very consistent basis," Wizards president of basketball operations Ernie Grunfeld said. "Sometimes young players have a tendency to be up and down. ... He's been a very solid, very consistent player. ... We thought it was a very good fit for what we're to do. We're trying to build a good base, a good foundation and he's a big part of that."
In addition to six years of NBA experience, the Wizards also get stronger inside play with the 6-foot-9 Jamison, who averages 19.1 points and 7.2 rebounds. Jamison showed good character as well last season, taking a seat on the bench in a reserve role for the Dallas Mavericks after starting every season for the Golden State Warriors.
"What he did in Dallas really showed his unselfishness," Grunfeld said. "They asked him to take on a different role and have different responsibilities and he did it and he did it extremely well."
Similar to former Maryland guard Steve Blake of last season who joined the Wizards alongside former Terp Juan Dixon, Jamison will reunite with several former teammates, including ex-Warriors guards Gilbert Arenas and Larry Hughes and former North Carolina teammate Brendan Haywood.
"We would have traded for him anyway, but that was a bonus," Grunfeld said.
Though Grunfeld said the deal was more about acquiring Jamison than it was dealing Stackhouse (20.9 points, 3.7 rebounds, 4.1 assists) and Laettner (13.3 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists) the two did have reputations as players who took away from team chemistry inside the locker room.
The Wizards took steps to reinforce a flimsy front line by selecting Peter John Ramos with their second-round pick (32nd overall). Grunfeld expected Ramos, a 7-3, 19-year-old center, to be selected in the first round. Ramos, who has played professionally in the Puerto Rican Superior Basketball League since 2000, averaged 20.5 points per game, 9.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks last season.
"This was a really good chance for us to get a legitimate 7-footer who's a good offensive player and good on the low post," Grunfeld said. "He's has nice hands and a nice touch."
It is uncertain when Ramos will join the team as the Puerto Rican league plays during the summer.