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Default 07-20-2001, 09:24 AM

KFAN reports Wolves will sign Smith
Steve Aschburner Star Tribune
Friday, July 20, 2001

If the Timberwolves sign free-agent Joe Smith to another contract, it presumably will be legal this time.

KFAN radio reported Thursday that Smith, a 6-10 power forward who became the center of controversy last fall in the team's salary-cap circumvention case, will sign a six-year contract worth nearly $34 million. But Wolves vice president of basketball operations Kevin McHale did not confirm that.

"We haven't re-signed Joe. We've talked to him and to his agent," McHale said Thursday night. "We'll see where it goes."

Have the Wolves made Smith an offer? "We've been talking to him," McHale said. "We've always liked Joe. He's a free agent. He's got a decision to make. We're trying to make a fit."

Dan Fegan, Smith's agent, did not return phone messages from the Star Tribune.

If accurate, the deal, reported by team play-by-play radio broadcaster Chad Hartman, would use up virtually all of the Wolves' available free agent money.

Smith, who played two seasons with the Wolves in 1998-99 and 1999-2000, was forced to leave the team last October after the NBA charged the Wolves with signing him to a series of illegal contracts.

Although Smith was eligible in January 1999 to sign only a one-year contract worth $1.75 million, Wolves owner Glen Taylor and agent Eric Fleisher negotiated an agreement that would have paid Smith as much as $86 million over 10 years.

Commissioner David Stern in December imposed the most severe penalties in NBA history. Taylor was suspended until Sept. 1, 2001, and McHale, who signed the illicit documents, was forced to accept a leave of absence that ended Wednesday. The club was fined $3 million and forfeited four of its five first-round draft picks from 2001-2005. Fleisher was fined and censured by the NBA Players Association.

If the Wolves do re-sign Smith, building a six-year deal off the mid-level exception, they could pay him a starting salary of about $4.5 million. With the maximum raise of $450,000 each season, it could be worth $33.75 million. Smith's salary would rank third on the Wolves' payroll and his contract would run through the 2006-07 season, three years beyond Kevin Garnett's current deal and two years beyond guard Terrell Brandon's.

Smith played last season for Detroit on a one-year deal worth $2.25 million. He averaged 12.3 points and 7.1 rebounds.

Selected first overall in 1995 by Golden State, Smith -- who will turn 26 on July 26 -- has averaged 14.2 points and 7.4 rebounds in eight seasons. In his two seasons with the Wolves, Smith averaged 11.0 points, 6.9 rebounds and 28.0 minutes.

The Wolves, who already are over the salary cap of $42.5 million for 2001-02, have only the mid-level exception to spend on free agents. If they offer the full amount to Smith, it might hinder their chances of re-signing their free agents, such as forward LaPhonso Ellis and guard Felipe Lopez.

"We're trying to add talent, not just keep what we've got," McHale said. "I don't think it's going to get in the way [of keeping players]."

The Wolves reportedly have resumed talks with the Chicago Bulls on a deal involving forward Marcus Fizer, swingman Ron Artest and the Wolves' Wally Szczerbiak.

They also are believed to be talking with the Bulls about a three-team trade that would include Seattle, in hopes of delivering Sonics guard Gary Payton to the Twin Cities.
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MavsFanFinley MavsFanFinley is offline
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Default 07-20-2001, 09:07 PM

The free agents are dropping like flies...wonder if the Mavs will actually land someone this off-season?



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Default 07-23-2001, 05:33 AM

I don't think the Mavs need anything else than a center! For me Shawn Bradley is only a backup.
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LonestarROB LonestarROB is offline
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Default 07-26-2001, 01:33 PM

*Update*

"Wednesday, July 25, 2001
Smith returns to Timberwolves

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Associated Press


MINNEAPOLIS -- Joe Smith, forced to leave Minnesota last year because of a series of illegal contracts, has rejoined the Timberwolves, his agent confirmed Wednesday.

Smith orally accepted the six-year deal worth about $34 million earlier this week, but planning for a wedding had kept him from signing it immediately, said agent Dan Fegan.

Documents were forwarded Wednesday to the Wolves, Fegan said. The league still must approve the contract.

Smith, who turns 26 Thursday, played with Minnesota for two seasons before an arbitrator sided with NBA commissioner David Stern, who voided Smith's contract after finding the Timberwolves guilty last fall of signing him to a series of illegal contracts designed to sidestep the salary cap.

Picked first overall by the Golden State Warriors in 1994 out of Maryland, Smith signed with the Detroit Pistons last year -- averaging 12.3 points and 7.1 rebounds.

In additional punishment for the illegal contract, the Wolves were fined $3 million and forfeited five first-round draft picks -- one of which was later returned. Team owner Glen Taylor is on leave of absence until Sept. 1 and vice president Kevin McHale recently returned from a seven-month suspension.

The deal will eat up all of the Wolves' $4.5 million salary cap exception, meaning the team is limited to signing free agents to minimum contracts or their own free agents to specified raises."








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Default 07-26-2001, 02:57 PM

I wonder how the Wolves expect to re-sign Lopez and Ellis now that they're left with nothing to offer but the vet minimums.
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Default 07-26-2001, 08:06 PM

This helps our chances of landing LaPhonso Ellis now. Especially with Bruce Bowen all but signed in San Antonio too.



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Default 07-26-2001, 09:02 PM

Laphonso Ellis is a nice player, but I'm not sure I trust the idea of 6-7/6-8 power forwards...


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Default 07-27-2001, 09:17 AM

I like Laphonso, he used to be one of my favourites playing for the Nuggets, I would love to see him play in Dallas for Dallas![img]i/expressions/face-icon-small-happy.gif[/img]
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