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Timberwolves waive Milicic; submit offer to sign Batum

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Associated Press
7/12/2012 11:28:17 PM
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Timberwolves' pursuit of Nicolas Batum will drag on for at least one more day.

The Timberwolves and Portland Trail Blazers engaged in sign-and-trade talks all day on Thursday with the Wolves hoping to land the versatile 23-year-old swingman.

But no deal had been reached as of Thursday night, so both sides agreed to resume discussions on Friday. That means the Wolves have yet to file a signed offer sheet for four years and $46 million that Batum signed earlier in the day.

The restricted free agent would be unable to be traded if he signs the deal.

Portland would have three days to match the offer once the contract is filed with the league office.

The Timberwolves are still hoping to pull off a sign and trade that would help them alleviate their salary cap situation, add what they feel is the missing piece on the perimeter, and still hold on to second-year forward Derrick Williams.

Portland general manager Neil Olshey has said that the Blazers intended to match any offer and did not see enough attractive pieces on the Wolves roster to entice them to trade Batum.

But Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said earlier Thursday that if they couldn't work out a trade, the Wolves would file the paperwork with the league and force the Blazers to match.

"We're going to call their bluff," Taylor said.

The Timberwolves used the amnesty clause on centre Darko Milicic earlier in the day to start creating the necessary cap room to sign Batum.

The Wolves likely would have to buy out the contracts of Martell Webster and Brad Miller to create more room to add Batum, Brandon Roy and Alexey Shved. The Wolves have already agreed to terms on deals with Roy and Shved.

But the Wolves are holding off on buying out Webster and Miller for the moment in case those contracts can be used in a trade to land Batum.

It's been a back and forth and sometimes acrimonious negotiation between the Blazers and the Wolves that has dragged on for nearly a week. It all started with Batum's agent saying his client felt stifled in the Blazers' offence and preferred to play for coach Rick Adelman in Minnesota.

Olshey has been steadfast in his public stance that the Blazers would not that to happen.

"I don't believe in letting talent walk out the door," he said.

Milicic received the amnesty designation, a one-time provision allowing a team to let a player go without his remaining contract counting against the league's salary cap or luxury tax. The Wolves still must pay the 27-year-old Milicic about $7 million more.

Milicic signed a four-year deal with $16 million guaranteed in July 2010. Acquired in a throwaway trade with the New York Knicks in February 2010, the 7-footer showed flashes of the potential that prompted the Detroit Pistons to make him the second pick in the 2003 draft with Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade still on the board.

Milicic often struggled to stay in shape and fell out of Adelman's favour down the stretch last season. His productivity was far less than what president of basketball operations David Kahn predicted after signing the big Serbian, infamously calling his acquisition for the Wolves "like manna from heaven." Milicic appeared in 29 games last season, starting 23, and averaged 4.6 points, 3.3 rebounds and 16.3 minutes.

Darko Milicic (Photo: David Sherman/NBAE/Getty Images)

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(Photo: David Sherman/NBAE/Getty Images)
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