Jefferson's contract offer weighing heavily on Taylor

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 16, 2007 - 10:14 PM

ATLANTA - Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said Tuesday he expects to examine soon the terms of the contract that will be offered to fourth-year forward Al Jefferson, the centerpiece in July's five-player, two-draft pick trade for Kevin Garnett.

The Wolves have until Oct. 31 to sign Jefferson to a contract extension. After that, Jefferson, selected by Boston 15th overall in the 2004 draft, cannot be signed until next summer, when the Wolves still would retain the right to match any other team's offer.

"We will try," Taylor said. "It will be a good offer, a real offer, not a low-ball offer. But I don't know what his agent's expectations are."

Orlando signed Dwight Howard, the 2004 draft's No. 1 pick, to a five-year, $80 million extension that will pay him $13 million next season, the maximum allowed under the NBA's collective bargaining agreement. Taylor said if Jefferson's agent, Jeff Schwartz, is seeking a contract approaching the maximum, the team will wait until next summer.

Jefferson had his third double-double in four preseason games with 20 points and 15 rebounds Tuesday in Atlanta. He is averaging 13.2 points and 13.2 rebounds.

Halftime speech

The Wolves trailed all night Tuesday, lost 103-77 to the Hawks at Philips Arena and are winless (0-3) against NBA opponents. Wolves coach Randy Wittman said he "got after" his unresponsive players after they were outscored 60-42 in the first half and was encouraged how the evening's starters reduced the deficit to eight points with a 16-6 run that started the third quarter. With his young players in for the fourth quarter, the Wolves were outscored 23-7 and went the first 10 minutes without a point. "They have to learn how to play in this league," he said.

Wolves forward Ryan Gomes sat out because of a foot/ankle injury sustained Monday in Memphis. Point guards Randy Foye (knee tendinitis) and Sebastian Telfair (ankle) remain out indefinitely.

Crunching numbers

Taylor, on how the team will get from its current 16 guaranteed contracts to a maximum number of 15 players it can carry into the regular season: "I don't have the answer. We have two weeks to get that figured out."

The options: Buy at least one player out of his contract or make a two-for-one trade. "A two-for-one, that's hard to do," Taylor said.

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