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Newz Forum: BASKETBALL: Cassell reports to afternoon Timberwolves practice

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posted on Oct, 6 2004 @ 09:22 PM
MINNEAPOLIS -- Sam Cassell practiced jump shots at the end of practice Wednesday, looking right at home among his Minnesota Timberwolves teammates.

But Cassell was a day late for training came at St. John's University and the 34-year-old guard skipped the team's media day and first day of workouts earlier this week because he was unhappy about not getting a contract extension.

Charles Tucker, Cassell's agent, wouldn't comment when asked if the Wolves did anything to address Cassell's unhappiness, other than to say Cassell "has a better understanding" of the team's plans for him in the future. Cassell said talks were moving in the right direction.

Cassell's contract calls for him to be paid $5.65 million this season and $6.1 million next season.

Cassell said that's not fair market value for a point guard of his caliber. He blames the problem on a former agent he worked with when he played for the New Jersey Nets, and said the issue continues to plague him and accounts for his frequent trades.

"I won't be satisfied until I get what I deserve," he said. "It's going good; that's why I'm in camp. ... My number is so low, it won't be something they've got to think about."

Under the collective bargaining agreement, the Wolves could fine Cassell $2,500 for each of the two practices he missed Tuesday, and $5,000 for each missed practice after that.

Meanwhile, teammate Latrell Sprewell is also hoping to work out an extension before the regular season begins.

"If I have to leave, I will," said Sprewell, who has one year remaining on his contract. "That's the bottom line. ... It's a great opportunity to try and win a ring, but I have to do what's best for me financially."

Vice president of basketball operations Kevin McHale wouldn't comment on Cassell's situation, except to say he's glad he's in camp. But he said working out a deal with Sprewell before opening day seemed reasonable.

"We want Spree here," McHale said. "He's a tremendous part of this team -- his talent, personality, energy. We'd like to get something done."

The trio of Cassell, league MVP Kevin Garnett and Sprewell led the Wolves out of the first round of the playoffs for the first time in team history. Minnesota lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference finals, a series that Cassell barely played in because of torn cartilage in his hip.

"What we did last year speaks for itself," Cassell said. "Did they get out of the first round? Did they bring me and Spree in here to get out of the first round? I'm the leader of the pack. Kevin Garnett is the ticket, but I call the plays."

Cassell said he has recovered from the hip surgery he had in June, and that the injury will not factor into contract discussions.

"We missed him out here," Sprewell said. "He's the same; he looks 100 percent."

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