Well, give John Nash credit: he won the game of chicken.
Knowing that New Jersey wanted to give Shareef the 6-year, $38 million contract he deserves, and knowing that New Jersey couldn't make that offer without Portland, and knowing that New Jersey would have had to use it's full Mid-Level Exception to sign Shareef and then would not have been able to use it on another player, Nash held firm to his demands that Portland wanted a first-round pick in addition to New Jersey's trade exception in order to complete a sign-and-trade with the Nets. And, he got it. Portland last night agreed to the sign-and trade, sending Shareef Abdur Rahim to New Jersey in exchange for a first-round pick next season and their $5 million trade exception.
This is, quite honestly, a win-win situation for both teams and the player. Shareef gets the money he wanted, Portland gets their draft pick, and New Jersey added a very nice starting-caliber power forward to their club while keeping their mid-level exception to sign a backup poing guard (likely Keyon Dooling). The Blazers didn't want to receive any players in return for this deal -- as documented here, we've got plenty of those already -- and didn't have much use for the trade exception as it still counts against the luxury tax. Hence, it was a first-round trick that was going to do the trick, and a first round pick they got. Granted, it's lottery protected, and as a matter of fact there are additional restrictions on the pick (I'm trying to find out exactly what they are) that may push it past 2006 -- but nonetheless, everyone's happy.
The Blazers now have three picks in next year's first round: their own, the pick they acquired that belonged to Detroit on draft night, and now the New Jersey pick. The last thing Portland needs is another slew of youngsters, so those will make for some interesting trade bait items for the rest of this offseason and this upcoming year.
In other news, how about what the Nets have done? You have to give GM Rod Thron some credit. Following the team letting Kenyon Martin go, he took a lot of heat ... but since then has added Vince Carter, extended Richard Jefferson, added Shareef and now likely adding Keyon Dooling. Things are looking up for New Jersey.