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Timberwolves’ Smith Has NBA Hearing

October 17, 2000

NEW YORK (AP) _ Minnesota Timberwolves forward Joe Smith was present at a hearing with the NBA on Monday to determine whether his contract violates the league’s salary cap.

Smith has gotten three one-year contracts of $1.75 million, $2.1 million and $3.6 million from Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor.

But The New York Times reported that Taylor agreed to give Smith two additional contracts prior to the 2001-02 season that would be worth between $40.6 million and $86 million over seven years, in an attempt to circumvent the salary cap. The total would depend on performance clauses, such as Smith making the All-Star team or leading Minnesota to an NBA title.

The deal was negotiated with Smith’s former agent, Eric Fleisher.

The league made its arguments in the morning before arbitrator Kenneth Dam, while separate caucuses were held in different meeting rooms throughout the day. Smith testified in the afternoon.

There will be another hearing on Friday, also in New York. Smith was joined by Dan Fegan, his current agent, David Fehr, an attorney for the NBA Players Association, and lawyers Jeff Kessler and Ron Klempner.

The NBA was represented by league general counsel Rick Buchanan and lawyer Howie Ganz, while the Timberwolves were represented by the legal team of John Hutchinson and Doug Peterson.

If the arbitrator rules there was a secret deal made, commissioner David Stern could impose multimillion dollar fines, loss of draft picks, voiding of player contracts and suspension of team personnel.

Smith, selected first overall by Golden State in the 1995 draft, averaged 9.9 points and 6.2 rebounds in 78 games last season.

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