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Lopez a Hornet, Johnson to Suns in deal involving T-Wolves

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Associated Press
7/27/2012 6:43:10 PM
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NEW ORLEANS -- The Hornets, Suns and Timberwolves have completed a three-team deal that will send 7-foot centre Robin Lopez and forward Hakim Warrick from Phoenix to New Orleans, while moving forward Wes Johnson and a future first-round draft pick from Minnesota to the Suns.

Word of the multiplayer trade first broke on Wednesday, though the final version had minor changes.

The deal sends the contracts of Jerome Dyson and Brad Miller from New Orleans to Phoenix. Minnesota also receives three second-round draft picks in the deal.

The acquisition of Lopez fills a need at centre for the Hornets, who traded away Emeka Okafor and let Chris Kaman go in free agency.

"We wanted to fill the centre position and we feel like Robin fits in with our timeline -- a young player that has experience in the league and will have an opportunity to come in and contribute and help us," Hornets general manager Dell Demps said. "He brings a defensive presence. We hung our hat on our defence since we've been here. His size and his athleticism we think will really anchor our defence."

While the Hornets were able to draft 6-11 Kentucky star Anthony Davis first overall in last month's draft, Davis is expected to play often at power forward because his slender build could leave him at a defensive disadvantage in 1-on-1 matchups against some of the league's more powerful centres such as Dwight Howard or Andrew Bynum.

The Hornets also have 7-footer Jason Smith on the roster, and while he has filled in at centre well when called upon, he has been primarily a reserve power forward during his career.

New Orleans now has made two trades to acquire new frontcourt players, having also dealt forward Gustavo Ayon to Orlando for 6-10 sharpshooter Ryan Anderson, a perimeter threat who can space out a defence. Lopez was drafted 15th overall by the Suns in 2008. Before that, he starred at Stanford with his twin brother, Brook, now a starter with Brooklyn Nets.

Robin Lopez has been an off-and-on starter in the NBA and was a reserve for all 64 games in which he appeared last season, averaging 5.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 0.7 blocks in 14 minutes a game.

Warrick, a former Syracuse standout now entering his eighth season, started periodically in Memphis early in his career, but played a reserve role the past two seasons in Phoenix. For his career, he has averaged 9.5 points and 4.1 rebounds in 20.4 minutes.

"Hakim Warrick is a veteran (who) will add to our frontcourt depth," Demps said. "He has been in the league. He has the ability to score (with) his athleticism and quickness and we look forward to watching him play."

In Johnson, the Suns get a 6-foot-7 small forward who has averaged 7.7 points and 2.9 rebounds in 24.6 minutes during the first two years of his career. He was the fourth overall pick in the 2010 draft out of Syracuse but has not developed into a dependable scorer or defender in the NBA.

"I'm very optimistic still about Wes's career," said Timberwolves general manager David Kahn, who needed to clear salary cap space to sign free agent Andrei Kirilenko. "I thought he had a really, really rough year, and for whatever reason it appeared to me that his confidence was shaken last year."

Kahn said the first-rounder the Wolves sent to the Suns is protected if it falls in the top 13 for the "next few years." Minnesota still has another first-round pick for 2013.

Miller plans to retire, but the $5.1 million remaining on his expiring contract could give the Suns added financial flexibility. Dyson played in nine games for the Hornets late last season, averaging 7.4 points and two assists in about 20 minutes per game. His contract is not guaranteed and the Suns could waive him at no cost.

Robin Lopez (Photo: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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