By Jerry Zgoda
Mark Madsen was in MSP airport this afternoon and getting ready to hop a plane for a family reunion in Utah when he learnedfrom his agent that he and teammates Sebastian Telfair and Craig Smith have been traded to the Los Angeles Clippers for 29-year-old swingman Quentin Richardson.
David Kahn’s second big trade as Wolves new boss brings the Wolves a 6-6 player who can play shooting guard, a position of need that until Monday afternoon was filled mostly by rookies Wayne Ellington and Jonny Flynn, a natural point guard.
It also helps create open roster spots with a 3-for-1 deal that also helps balance a roster that was heavy with power forwards and point guards.
Richardson’s $9.35 million contract also expires after this season.
So, too, do the contracts for Madsen and Smith, which means the Wolves get out of Telfair’s $2.7 million player option for the 2010-11 season.
The trade also sends away the longest tenured Timberwolf. Madsen, a little used forward, joined the team in 2003. And it sends him back to Los Angeles, where he began his NBA career with the Lakers.
“Of all the cities, I get to go there,” said Madsen, who has one year at $2.5 million on his contract. “I have a lot of friends in L.A., a lot of family in L.A., a lot of affection for L.A. I love it here. It’s been a great city to play in. I’m grateful to Glen Taylor for giving me the opportunity to play here.”
Kahn’s on his way to Spain to deal with the Ricky Rubio matter and is expected to talk to Twin Cities reporters about the deal on a conference call later this afternoon.
Richardson officially was a Clipper for an entire weekend.
He became one Friday when the trade that sent Zach Randolph from L.A. to Memphis was finalized. Richardson was dealt on draft night from the New York Knicks to the Grizzlies in a deal for Darko Milicic.
Richardson is entering his 10th NBA season but now has been swapped twice in less than a month mostly because of his expiring contract rather than his on-court attributes.
He averaged 10.2 points in 72 games for the Knicks last season. He scored 17.2 points a game — his best statistical season — in his fourth NBA season, with the Clippers in 2003-2004.
UPDATE, 4:05 p.m.: David Kahn just talked to reporters on a conference call and said this trade is all about balancing the roster, creating extra roster space so the team can possibly make other moves and clear additional cap room in 2010-11 by dealing away Telfair and his contract, which has a one-year player option after this season.
He said don’t read anything regarding the Ricky Rubio situation into this trade.
“This is not a precursor of any sort,” Kahn said from New York, where he was changing planes bound for Spain. “I have no feel yet whether Ricky will be joining us next season or not.”
He said his Spain trip will delay his hiring of a coach by up to a week and said it will be done by the end of July or beginning of August.
He said three or four candidates — he hasn’t decided if he will interview again a fourth coach — have advanced to the second round of interviews.
Those coaches are believed to be former NBA point guard Mark Jackson, Houston assistant coach Elston Turner and possibly Los Angeles Lakers assistant Kurt Rambis and Dallas assistant Terry Stotts.
UPDATE II: When asked if he might use one of the roster spots opened by the trade to sign, say, Garrett Siler or Rob Kurz from the summer league team, Kahn said he and his front-office staff hadn’t even thought about those guys yet. Apparently, he’s working on something much bigger.