Shawn Bradley and Keith Van Horn, two of the most revered names in Utah basketball history, are reportedly on the move — Bradley halfway around the world, and Van Horn anywhere but New Jersey.
However, Utah Jazz officials strongly discount the possibility of a trade that would bring Van Horn, the former University of Utah star whose four years in the NBA has been with the New Jersey Nets, back to play in Salt Lake City.
"It's not even close," said Jazz vice president of basketball operations Kevin O'Connor.
Meanwhile, Bradley's move has nothing to do with a change of playing venue, with the Dallas Mavericks center now looking to join teammate Dirk Nowitzki on the German national team later this year for the European Championships. His goal is to play in the 2004 Olympics for Germany, where the former BYU center and Emery High standout was born.
Telling the Dallas Morning News that playing in the Olympics "has been a dream of mine my whole life," Bradley would join Nowitzki and Dallas assistant coach Rolando Blackman in a makeshift Mavs contingent with the German national team.
Bradley was born in Landstuhl, Germany, where his parents were living and while his father was in the Air Force. One of his grandmothers is German, while a grandfather lived in the European nation for much of his life.
In another twist of German basketball fate, Nowitzki — the son of elite-level German athletes — was coached by Holger Geschwindner, a member of the 1972 West German Olympic team. In a curious twist, Geschwindner in turn was a former art student under Bradley's grandfather in Germany.
Realistic enough to know the U.S. National Team has plenty of younger, higher-profile big men to choose from, Bradley has looked to his native Germany for Olympic opportunities. He made early inquiries about the German team last year, but it wasn't early enough — he was required to be with the team during qualifying rounds.
And initial qualifying begins with September's European Championships in Turkey, with Bradley now applying for the necessary paperwork to claim dual citizenship with Germany.
International basketball is nothing new to Bradley. In fact, he had his first taste of foreign hoops while starring at Emery High in Castle Dale. At the end of his junior and senior seasons, Bradley was a key player on Utah all-star teams that trounced the Russian junior national teams toured the United States in 1989 and '90.
As for Van Horn, he is seen as a likely candidate to move as the Nets shuffle their roster following a disappointing 26-win season under first-year team president Rod Thorn, and the team's two stars — Van Horn and point guard Stephon Marbury — inability to get along has been well-publicized.
In a story in its Monday editions, the New York Post quoted an NBA source saying that the Nets probably will trade either of the talented twosome, with Marbury likely to remain with the team.
And the Jazz were cited as a likely suitor for a departing Van Horn.
Initial reports hint at New Jersey building a trade upon a foundation of Van Horn — the No. 2 pick overall in the 1997 NBA Draft — for the likes of the Jazz pair of Donyell Marshall and Bryon Russell, both of whom are in the final year of their contracts this coming season. The Nets would welcome Marshall's inside presence and the energy and shooting of Russell, a college teammate of current Net guard Lucious Harris.
However, while the Jazz have expressed interest in Van Horn in the past, O'Connor waved off any likelihood of a trade bringing Van Horn to Utah and cited salary-cap restrictions as one of the biggest obstacles.
"Sure, there have been conversations about Keith," O'Connor told the Deseret News Tuesday morning. "But we talk to every team and speak to teams about players on every team all the time. This is something that is not even realistic. It's not even close."
Deseret News sports writer Tim Buckley contributed to this report.