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Blazers Capture Schrempf

The Portland Trail Blazers have signed free-agent forward Detlef Schrempf, The Associated Press has learned.

Portland signed the 36-year-old veteran to a two-year contract.

The Blazers can use the so-called middle-class exception, which allows teams that are over the $34 (m) million-dollar salary cap to sign a veteran. The Blazers have four-point-two (m) million dollars over two seasons with which to pay Schrempf.

The signing completes an exhausting daylong string of deals for the Blazers.

At two earlier news conferences, Portland president and general manager Bob Whitsitt announced the team had re-signed free-agent forward Jermaine O'Neal and traded Isaiah Rider and Jim Jackson to the Hawks for Steve Smith and Ed Gray.

Signing Schrempf comes as a huge surprise, even to the Blazers.

They -- like everyone else -- thought Utah and San Antonio were the front-runners to sign him. The Jazz are ready to make another run at a title, and the champion Spurs had two-point-six (m) million dollars from Sean Elliott's contract to offer him.

But Schrempf reportedly wanted to stay near his home and two sons in Seattle.

And the Sonics pulled themselves out of the running by offering just a one-year, one (m) million-dollar contract to Schrempf. The player said last week he found the offer insulting.

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