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MavsFanFinley
10-24-2002, 05:24 PM
Strickland could join Timberwolves
By DAVE CAMPBELL
AP Sports Writer
October 24, 2002


MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Minnesota Timberwolves were close to reaching an agreement with free agent point guard Rod Strickland, his agent said Thursday, a move that would add depth to Minnesota's injury-thinned backcourt.

``It's getting close,'' agent Leon Rose said.

Terrell Brandon, recovering from February knee surgery, is out indefinitely and guard Felipe Lopez will miss the season with torn ligaments in his left knee.

The Timberwolves' season opener is Wednesday against Denver, and right now they've got only four healthy guards -- Troy Hudson, Kendall Gill, Anthony Peeler and Igor Rakocevic. Maurice Evans and rookie Marcus Taylor, Minnesota's second-round draft pick out of Michigan State, were waived Thursday.

All-Star Wally Szczerbiak (toe) practiced Thursday, but he's not at full strength yet, and Randy Livingston (ankle) didn't practice at all.

The Timberwolves are installing a faster-paced motion offense, and it would take a newcomer time to pick it up. And then there's the issue of Strickland's past.

Strickland, a 14-year veteran, averaged 10.4 points and 6.1 assists in a productive, trouble-free season with Miami. But Strickland, 36, spent 10 days in jail after pleading guilty in April 2001 to driving under the influence of alcohol as a member of the Portland Trail Blazers.

He was arrested two years ago for refusing to leave a restaurant that was being shut by fire marshals. Before that, Strickland was arrested four times during five seasons with the Washington Wizards.

``It's got to be a comfortable fit for everybody,'' vice president of basketball operations Kevin McHale said.

Because Strickland has more than 10 years experience, the Wolves would have to pay him at least the veteran's minimum salary of $1.03 million.

Kevin Garnett's agent, Andy Miller, was at practice Thursday. The two sides are talking about a contract extension, but nothing is imminent. Garnett has two years remaining on his $126 million deal.

Forward Joe Smith (groin) is also hurt and might not be ready for Wednesday's opener.

``He's a little ways away,'' coach Flip Saunders said.