September 25, 2002 at 8:27 PM EST - Updated July 1 at 8:20 AM
By TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) - Lamond Murray wanted out, and the Cleveland Cavaliers granted the disgruntled forward his wish Wednesday.
Murray, who had been asking the Cavs to trade him for months, was dealt along with a second-round draft pick to the Toronto Raptors for center Michael Stewart and a future first-round pick.
Murray was the Cavs' leading scorer last season, averaging a career-high 16.6 points. But he became upset when the Cavs acquired small forward Darius Miles in the July trade that sent guard Andre Miller to the Los Angeles Clippers.
The 30-year-old Murray figured he would lose minutes with Miles around, and faxed a letter to various media outlets to voice his displeasure with the Cavs' latest rebuilding effort.
He complained that the team had not done a good job in promoting him or his teammates. Murray closed his letter by saying, "Play me or trade me."
Cleveland GM Jim Paxson had unsuccessfully shopped Murray, who has four years left on a seven-year, $29 million contract, before finally reaching a deal with the Raptors. But Paxson did not get much in return, acquiring a player who has contributed little since signing a six-year, $24 million contract three years ago.
Stewart averaged 2.0 points, 2.3 rebounds and 8.5 minutes in 11 appearances last season. In four seasons with the Raptors, Stewart averaged 1.4 points, 2.0 rebounds and 8.3 minutes in 121 appearances.
"This situation is good for all parties," said Paxson, who spoke with Murray after making the trade. "I told him there were no hard feelings.
"Lamond is closer to winning with Toronto, which is what he wanted," Paxson said. "And we cleared the deck. Lamond wasn't going to be part of the future."
Paxson said the Cavs could get the first-round pick from the Raptors as early as next season.
The Raptors are hoping that a change of scenery will invigorate Murray, who will likely be the backup to Morris Peterson at small forward and Vince Carter at shooting guard.
The 30-year-old Murray, a first cousin of former Raptor Tracy Murray, spent five seasons with the Clippers before being dealt to Cleveland in August 1999.
In 584 career regular-season games, Murray has averaged 12.9 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 28.2 minutes. He is a career 36 percent shooter from 3-point range.
"Lamond is a talented veteran who will solidify our rotation and improve our scoring," Toronto general manager Glen Grunwald said. "He has proven to be a consistent performer throughout his NBA career."
The 6-foot-10 Stewart began his career with Sacramento, averaging a career-high 4.6 points and 6.6 rebounds in 81 games as a rookie.
"Michael Stewart hasn't played much, but he's another big body," Paxson said. "He gives us some versatility."
The Cavs also signed forward Matt Barnes and free agent guard William "Smush" Parker. Cleveland acquired the rights to Barnes along with guard Nick Anderson from Memphis for forward Wesley Person on draft night.
Barnes was taken in the second round (46th overall). He averaged 8.8 points and 4.8 rebounds in four years at UCLA.
Parker averaged 16.5 points as a sophomore last season at Fordham.
Paxson said the Cavs have broken off negotiations with free agent guard Rod Strickland. The club will bring in other point guards to training camp.
(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)