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Monday, July 26, 2004
Clock starts ticking for Timberwolves

Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Trenton Hassell signed an offer sheet with the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday, giving Minnesota 15 days to decide whether it wants to match the offer and keep the restricted free agent.

The Blazers did not disclose the terms of the deal, but Hassell's agent, Mark Bartelstein, said it was worth $27 million over six years.

"They have to sort it out, and frankly the clock won't start ticking until they see the offer sheet, which will be tomorrow," Trail Blazers general manager John Nash said. "Obviously they don't want to lose a player like Trent Hassell, but on the other hand they have to address what's best for them."

A Timberwolves spokesman said General Manager Kevin McHale declined to comment.

Hassell started 74 games for Minnesota last season after two seasons for the Chicago Bulls, who picked him in the second round of the 2001 draft.

Defense is the 6-foot-5 guard's specialty.

"There's a lot of scorers in this league, but there's not a lot of people ... who are willing to sacrifice and play defense," Hassell said. "When I first started out I had no choice -- that was the only way I was going to get to play. So I kind of got a reputation and I did well at it."

Blazers coach Maurice Cheeks said Hassell is just what the Blazers need.

"It makes our defense a lot better. I think that's what we need to win ball games," Cheeks said.

Hassell averaged 5.0 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game while shooting 46.5 percent from the field and 78.7 percent from the free throw line for the Timberwolves during the regular season. He averaged 7.7 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists in Minnesota's 18 playoff games.