PORTLAND, Ore., July 15 -- The Washington Bullets acquired veteran point guard Rod Strickland and forward Harvey Grant Monday night from the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for forward Rasheed Wallace and guard Mitchell Butler. The Bullets also signed Toronto free agent Tracy Murray to a multi- year deal. The trade comes one day after Juwan Howard, Washington's All-Star forward, verbally agreed to a seven-year, $98 million deal with the Miami Heat. But, despite losing the player expected to be the cornerstone of the franchise's future, Bullets general manager Wes Unseld was upbeat. 'We have upgraded our backcourt with the addition of Strickland,' Unseld said. 'He is a proven top point guard in this league.' 'Strickland is an outstanding point guard who is one of the league's best perimeter shooters,' said head coach Jim Lynam. 'He's the type of player who makes his teammates better, because of his ability to penetrate the defense and create.' Strickland had a falling out with Portland coach P.J. Carlesimo during last season, coming at odds with Carlisemo's half-court offense. Strickland was suspended in the middle of the season, but averaged 18.8 points and 9.6 assists in 67 games last season. His assist total placed him fourth in the league. He helped the Trail Blazers push Utah to five games in the first round in the Western Conference playoffs, but had only 10 points and eight assists in the deciding game, a 102-64 humiliation at Utah. Strickland is returning to the Atlantic Division, where he played for the New York Knicks in the 1988-89 and part of the 1989-90 season.
Grant is making his second stint with the Bullets after spending the first five years of his career with them. He was traded to Portland for center Kevin Duckworth in June of 1993 and averaged 9.3 points and 4.8 rebounds in 75 games last season. Grant averaged 18 points or better the last three seasons he was with Washington. Unseld coached Grant during his previous time with Washington and believes his versatility will be a strong addition to the Bullets. 'Grant is a versatile wing player who has shown to be equally effective defending both the big guards and small forwards,' Lynam said. With Murray, the Bullets get a four-year veteran who averaged 16.2 points per game and a little more than four rebounds per game last year. The 6-7. 228-pound forward averaged 20.2 ppg and 5.5 rebounds in the last 32 games last year. He was originally drafted as the 18th overall pick in the first round by San Antonio in the 1992 Draft. 'Tracy is an excellent three-point shooter,' said Lynam. 'When given the opportunity this past season, he has shown the ability to score from the perimeter.' Wallace was the fourth overall pick in last year's draft, leaving after playing two years at North Carolina. The 6-foot-10 forward was erratic in his rookie season, averaging 10.1 points and 4.7 rebounds in 65 games. He suffered a torn ligament in his thumb and missed the final portion of the season. Butler saw time primarily as a reserve for Washington last season, averaging 3.9 points and 1.9 rebounds in 61 games. Butler's best season was in 1994-95, when he averaged 7.9 points.