MINNEAPOLIS, Minn., Feb. 22 -- The Minnesota Timberwolves became the first team to pull the trigger on a trade before the NBA's deadline Thursday, dealing forward Christian Laettner and center Sean Rooks to the Atlanta Hawks for guard Spud Webb and center Andrew Lang. The Hawks host the Chicago Bulls Thursday night. Neither Laettner nor Rooks is expected to play, but both will be in Atlanta to take their physicals. Minnesota hosts the Detroit Pistons Friday. Laettner, the third overall pick in the 1992 draft, was averaging 18 points and seven rebounds per game this season. He lead Duke to two national championships in college, but never achieved the same success in the pros with the Wolves, who have lost an average of 60 games the past three seasons. 'I'm not the one making the decisions,' Laettner said. 'I know something had to be made and they figured that out, you know it was time for me to go. I tried as hard as I could when I was here and I'm going to try as hard as I can when I'm in Atlanta.' Rooks, who started 70 games last year. had been relegated to bench duty this season. A second round pick by the Dallas Mavericks in 1992, Rooks was traded to Minnesota in November of 1994. He totaled five points in 15 minutes against the Houston Rockets on Wednesday and has played just 89 minutes and has scored 29 points in his last 11 games.
The 5-foot-7 Webb was in his second stint with the Hawks. He returned to Atlanta on June 29, 1995 from Sacramento. He has played in all 51 games this season averaging 5.9 points and 2.8 assists off the bench. Webb had just one point in 16 minutes against Seattle on Monday. The 28-year-old Lang is in his eighth NBA season and second with Atlanta. He was fourth on the Hawks in scoring at 12.9 points and 6.6 rebounds. Lang, who is ranked 14th in the league in blocks, has also played with Philadelphia and Phoenix. The move is beneficial to the Wolves, who free up nearly $3 million in salary in addition to unloading Laettner, who has been very unhappy in Minnesota. Laettner was making $4.1 million while Rooks had a $700,000 figure. Webb is at $2.1 million and Lang is making $2.1. Both Rooks and Webb are in the final year of their contracts with neither expected to return to their new teams nex season.