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Hawks Trade Lang, Webb To Timberwolves For Laettner, Rooks

February 22, 1996

ATLANTA (AP) _ The Atlanta Hawks today traded veteran guard Spud Webb and center Andrew Lang to the Minnesota Timberwolves for center-forward Christian Laettner and center Sean Rooks.

The Timberwolves, who have won only 15 games this season, got rid of two disgruntled players. Rooks, who started 70 games last season for Minnesota, had asked for a trade, and Laettner had displeased his teammates and coaches by feuding with 19-year-old rookie Kevin Garnett.

Laettner, a 6-foot-11, 235-pounder, was a first-round draft pick _ the third pick overall _ by the Timberwolves out of Duke in 1992 but never lived up to expectations in Minnesota. Switched from the forward position to center this season, he has averaged 18 points and 6.9 rebounds in 44 games.

``That’s fine,″ Laettner said when asked about the trade. ``Now I’ve got to go and do what you do in the NBA if you get traded, and that’s go to your new team and play as well as you can.″

Rooks, a 6-10, 250-pounder, was traded to the Timberwolves in November 1994 by the Dallas Mavericks. A second-round pick out of Arizona in the ’94 draft, he has averaged 6.8 points in 49 games.

Hawks general manager Pete Babcock, whose team is 28-23 and fourth in the Central Division, said the trade would make Atlanta ``a bigger, younger team.″ Lang is 29 years old and Webb 32.

The 5-7 Webb is in his 11th NBA season and averaging 5.9 points off the bench. He played with the Hawks during the mid-1980s after signing as a free agent and returned to Atlanta last June in a trade with the Sacramento Kings.

Lang, a 6-11, 250-pounder, was averaging a career-high 12.9 points and 6.5 rebounds for Atlanta. Signed by the Hawks as a free agent in 1993, he originally was drafted by Phoenix in 1988.

Wolves vice president of basketball operations Kevin McHale said the trade was made partly to improve his team’s chemistry. Garnett’s emergence as an offensive player _ he has double-doubles in points and rebounds the last three games _ made Laettner expendable, McHale said.

``Everybody’s got to understand there’s roles that need to be played in the context of the team,″ he said. ``If people don’t accept that or don’t understand that, it ends up being (conflict) all the time.″

McHale said more significant factors for the deal were the physical presence he hopes Lang will bring and the salary cap flexibility Webb provides.

Webb is in the final year of his contract; Lang is signed through 1999. The Wolves play host to Atlanta on Sunday.

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