St. Francis - Desmond Mason might be considered the hidden gem in the trade that sent guard Ray Allen to Seattle and brought all-star point guard Gary Payton to the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday.
The 25-year-old Mason is a third-year pro whose dramatic rise has mirrored that of his new Bucks teammate, Michael Redd.
Mason, a former Oklahoma State star, has averaged 14.1 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game this season while playing primarily a sixth-man role for the SuperSonics.
He started in 15 of Seattle's 52 games and could be considered a leading contender for the Sixth Man Award, along with the Bucks' Redd and Toni Kukoc.
"He's a spectacular athlete," Bucks general manager Ernie Grunfeld said of Mason. "He's very hard-nosed, a great jumper.
"Michael is more maybe on the perimeter, while Desmond is more someone going to the glass, running the floor, coming up with the spectacular dunk here and there. He's a terrific defender, and he can guard the '3' and the '2' position."
Mason became the first SuperSonics player to win the National Basketball Association Slam Dunk contest during the 2001 all-star event in Washington, D.C.
The 6-foot-5 native of Waxahachie, Texas, was named to the all-NBA rookie second team after being selected 17th overall in the 2000 draft by Seattle.
He averaged 5.9 points as a rookie and 12.4 points during his second pro season.
"We're very pleased with the way Michael Redd has been playing," said Grunfeld, "and Desmond Mason is just going to complement that.
"They could play together and give us a lot of weapons."
Mason instantly adds to the Bucks' youth and athleticism.
"I think he's a slasher, he goes to the hole," Grunfeld said. "He's an excellent finisher in transition."
Mason has posted career averages of 10.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 205 games with Seattle.
The addition of Payton and Mason also could help the Bucks improve their rebounding totals.
"They're both good rebounders, and they're both tough," Grunfeld said. "They're both very competitive guys, hard-nosed. These are very versatile players."
The Bucks also gave up point guard Kevin Ollie, rookie guard Ronald Murray and a conditional 2003 draft choice in the trade.
Grunfeld said Milwaukee would owe the SuperSonics the lesser of its two first-round picks, if it is able to keep both, or would send Seattle both of its second-round picks in the June draft.
Milwaukee's potential lottery pick from Atlanta, obtained in the Glenn Robinson deal, would not be subject to the trade.
"That was what we were talking about (using the draft choices in any possible trade)," Grunfeld said. "And we got two players who will be in our rotation as significant players right away."
|Mason by the Numbers|
|Desmond Mason at a glance during his NBA career:|
|Mason at a Glance|
Weight: 222 pounds
College: Oklahoma State
Stats and stuff: Averaging 34.8 minutes, 14.1 points and 4.8 rebounds per game; Shooting 74% on free throws and 44% from the field; Single-game high in points is 36 (against Los Angeles Clippers on April 8, 2002); Won NBA Slam Dunk Contest during 2001 all-star weekend; Averaged 12.4 points, 4.7 and 32.3 minutes rebounds during 2001-'02 season; Started 49 of 205 games in two-plus seasons with Seattle; Signed three-year contract with option for fourth year, and last summer SuperSonics exercised option for 2003-'04 season.
Personal: Married Andrea Larsen on Aug. 8, 2002; Nicknamed "Dez" and "Mase"; Majored in studio art at Oklahoma State. Enjoys drawing, listening to music and bowling.
Graphics courtesy of www.jsonline.com
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