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Old 11-16-2006, 03:16 PM   #1
04mzwach
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Default Release of Vin Baker Upside

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Baker's release eases burden
Luxury tax figured into his departure
BY RICK ALONZO
Pioneer Press
When they released forward Vin Baker this week, the Timberwolves gave themselves a little more roster flexibility.

What they do with that flexibility remains a question.

Even after Baker's departure Monday, the Wolves' payroll still is $1.2 million to $1.3 million over the NBA luxury tax threshold of $65.42 million. The Wolves didn't have to pay Baker the full amount of his one-year, minimum salary because his contract was non-guaranteed and the league was on the hook for paying some of his salary.

But had the Wolves kept Baker on the roster long enough to fully guarantee his contract, he would have cost them $1,489,102 this season. That would have included a dollar-for-dollar luxury tax.

That's a significant amount for a player who clearly doesn't have much left in his tank. Baker, who will turn 35 next Thursday, didn't appear in the team's first six games and was on the inactive list for all but two.

General manager Jim Stack said the luxury tax played a role in the team's decision to release Baker but wasn't the overriding factor.

"Obviously you'd like to be under that number ($65.42 million), but Glen (Taylor, team owner) has said that if the right deal comes along, he would give it his blessing, even if it puts us over the tax," Stack said recently.

Stack said the Wolves released Baker because there wasn't much playing time for him with the return of forward Mark Madsen from a knee injury and the development of rookie Craig Smith.

So now what?

The Wolves have 14 players on the roster, one fewer than the league limit. That gives them the flexibility to add a free agent. If they make a trade, it also gives them wiggle room.

"When you've got one extra spot, then maybe you could do more than you would otherwise," Stack said. "We're not necessarily looking to make any moves, but you're always talking to teams and kind of seeing who's looking to do what, so you've got a good idea of what your guys' (trade) value is and that type of thing. But I don't like to see a revolving door."

Stack avoided saying a trade wouldn't happen. But it's clear the team wants to stick with the current lineup for at least the foreseeable future.

After snapping a four-game losing streak with a 101-89 victory over Portland on Tuesday night, the Wolves are 3-4 heading into Friday night's game at Cleveland.

"We need to continue to work with the guys we have here," coach Dwane Casey said. "I like our team. We just have to jell together. We have to accept our roles. We need more time together... . I think we've made enough changes in the last few years to last for a while. Continuity and patience is what we need."

As for Baker, Stack said the 13-year NBA veteran has returned home to Connecticut, where he plans to attend to business interests. But Baker apparently also plans to work out with former NBA coach John Lucas in Houston. Baker wants another crack at the league.

"He definitely, I think, wants to get back in the NBA and play and go out on his terms," Stack said.
Get a centere :) we got cash from the roy trade so why not try to get a center..
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