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NBA Scrutinizing T'wolves Cap

Justices, from left, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David H. Souter, Antonin Scalia, John Paul Stevens, John Roberts, Sandra Day O'Connor, Anthony M. Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Stephen G. Breyer, Oct. 3, 2005.
AP
Charging the Minnesota Timberwolves, player Joe Smith and agent Eric Fleisher violated salary cap rules, the NBA started an arbitration proceeding Friday.

"The agreement, which is set forth in writing, calls for future payments to Smith of tens of millions of dollars, and was deliberately hidden from the league," said Joel Litvin, the NBA's executive vice president of legal and business affairs.

"This is the most serious salary cap offense that can be committed by teams, players, or agents, and subjects the guilty parties to substantial penalties under the CBA, in addition to other potential liabilities."

Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor told The Associated Press that he met with NBA commissioner David Stern on Friday and told him he believes the team followed the proper procedures in reaching an agreement with Smith.

"I told him that I didn't think we did anything wrong because everything we were agreeing to would have to be approved, and that we had no side deals to show," Taylor said.

Taylor said the Timberwolves reached an agreement with Smith that would be submitted over a period of time "that would conform with the rules." He said the deal would "pay him market" based on how the forward performs.

Attempts to reach Fleisher for comment were unsuccessful.

The NBA said that if the arbitrator confirms the existence of an undisclosed agreement, the collective bargaining agreement authorizes Stern to impose penalties that include multimillion dollar fines, the forfeiture of draft picks, the voiding of player contracts and the suspension of team personnel.

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