Chuck Person, the Indiana Pacers' brash scoring machine, and point guard Micheal Williams have been traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves for point guard Pooh Richardson and Sam Mitchell.
Nicknamed the "Rifleman," Person has consistently been one of the team's top scorers since the Pacers made him the fourth overall pick in the 1986 draft. He leaves as the club's all-time leading NBA scorer with 9,096 points.Billy Knight, who started in 1974 when the club was part of the ABA, is the all-time scoring leader with 10,780.
Pacers president Donnie Walsh said Tuesday that with other shooters like Reggie Miller and Detlef Schrempf, Indiana could afford to part with Person in the hopes of improving the team's defense and chemistry.
"We felt we had an overabundance of offensive players and not enough players who could perform roles," Walsh said.
Richardson, 26, the first player ever drafted by the Timberwolves, led the team in assists in each of its first three seasons. He averaged 15 points and eight assists a game over his career and averaged 16.5 points last season.
Mitchell, 29, who also joined the Timberwolves before their inaugural 1989 season, started at forward for most of his three seasons and was considered a good defensive player. He averaged 10.1 points last season.
"This is a trade that's been discussed for a long, long time," Pacers coach Bob Hill said. "It's definitely going to change the chemistry of the team. It will improve the defense."
Indiana was the second highest scoring team in the league last season, but finished a disappointing 40-42 and were swept by the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs.
Still, it was better than Minnesota's league-worst 15-67.
The Timberwolves, who drafted 6-foot-11 Christian Laettner, 6-8 Marlon Maxey and 6-8 Tim Burroughs, have been searching for scoring punch and more of an inside physical presence.
Now they have both in Person, a 6-foot-8 forward who averaged 18.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.7 assists a game last year.
Person was named Rookie of the Year and led the Pacers to the playoffs for the first time in six years during the 1986-87 season. He holds the playoff record for 3-pointers with seven in Game 2 of the Pacers first-round series against the Boston Celtics this year.
"He's a big-time scorer. When have we really had a player with the ability to take over the game? We really never had," Timberwolves president Bob Stein said. "He and Christian Laettner will give us firepower, which is what hurt us last year. I think we're going to be a lot more exciting."