|Monday, August 19
Updated: August 21, 2:01 PM ET
Kemp agrees to forfeit considerable cash
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Shawn Kemp, the former All-Star who averaged just 6.3 points in two seasons with Portland, was waived by the Trail Blazers on Tuesday after the team restructured his contract.
Kemp's contract would have paid him $46.5 million through the 2003-04 season. Kemp was due to receive $21.5 million this upcoming season and $25 million in 2003. Terms of the restructured deal were not disclosed by the team.
Kemp's agent, Tony Dutt, would not discuss terms of the buyout, but a source told ESPN's David Aldridge that the number is close to $10 million over two years, with deferred money coming over a 10-year period. The majority of the deferred money will be paid to Kemp before 2005. The Blazers could save between $15 million and $20 million in potential luxury tax payments under the agreement.
Dutt did say that Kemp is in "full compliance" with his after-care program. Kemp voluntarily left the Blazers in April of 2001 to enter a drug rehabilitation center for cocaine abuse.
Last season, he was suspended for five games in February for failing to comply with his after-care program. It is believed the suspension came because Kemp missed a scheduled meeting with his counselor.
"That's not the issue," Dutt said. "He's been in full compliance since the middle of last year."
Blazers general manager Bob Whitsitt told ESPN that the agreement came after months of discussions with both Kemp and Dutt.
"The deal he signed with Cleveland five years ago (for $107 million over seven years) was a result of his being an all-pro, and being grossly underpaid, and wanting his contract redone," Whitsitt said. "Fairness is a two-way street. It can be frustrating to us as an organization if (contracts) get too one-sided. You have to practice what you preach. ... he's been in a situation where he's had (contracts) re-balanced in his favor a few times."
Whitsitt said Kemp and Dutt were reluctant at first to agree to any restructuring, but agreed "philosophically" to the move about a month ago.
"He's not the all-pro player he was," Whitsitt said. "He's still a good player. (But) there's too big of a gap there."
Dutt said Kemp wants to play this season, but ruled out playing for the Lakers.
"He doesn't want to go to L.A. to win a championship," Dutt began, continuing, "well, he wants to win a championship, but he doesn't want to play five minutes a game. ... He still can play and he still wants to play. Now he has to prove it to himself."
Dutt said Kemp has hired a personal trainer and will work out six hours a day for the next two weeks.
"We'll evaluate it in a couple of weeks," Dutt said. "I would assume that when he gets into shape, people would want him -- especially a lot of teams in the East."
Seattle SuperSonics coach Nate McMillan, a former teammate of Kemp's in Seattle, had a different opinion. McMillan told the Seattle Times he believes Kemp's career might be at an end.
"Obviously I can't speak for Shawn, but I think for him to make this decision to forgo this last year of contract and leave (millions) on the table, then that tells me that he doesn't want to play with anyone else," McMillan told the newspaper. "He must have decided that this was it. And he must be comfortable with that decision."
Whitsitt said the contract was reduced by "a significant amount," but would not confirm earlier published reports that Kemp, a forward, had agreed to give up more than $25 million.
"This is a situation where we felt in today's climate that the contract wasn't in the range of fair as it should be, and I think Shawn understood that," Whitsitt said.
"I think this is a good thing for Shawn, and a good thing for the Blazers," Whitsitt said.
"I would like to thank the Blazers, (team owner) Paul Allen and the fans of Portland for their support," Kemp said in a prepared statement released by the team. "I expect to continue my NBA career at the highest level and am looking forward to the challenge ahead."
The move has important financial implications for the Blazers, with the team likely to save at least $40 million in NBA luxury taxes.
Some of that savings will be used to pay free agent point guard Jeff McInnis, signed last week by the Trail Blazers. The team is also trying to come to terms with former center Arvydas Sabonis, who has indicated he would like to return to Portland after a year off.
Kemp appeared in six consecutive All-Star games starting in 1993, five with Seattle and one with the Cavaliers.
"There's no doubt that I think Shawn will play in the NBA next season," Whitsitt said. "He's capable of contributing."
(ESPN's David Aldridge and The Associated Press contributed to this report.)