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Youngest Free Agent To Sign


Free agent Jermaine O'Neal is expected to re-sign with the Portland Trail Blazers for about $25 million over three years, a newspaper reported.

O'Neal, a 20-year-old backup forward/center who is the NBA's youngest free agent, was scheduled to fly from his home in Columbia, S.C., and arrive in Portland late Sunday night to finalize details of the contract, The Oregonian reported in Monday's editions.

Portland's initial offer believed to be about $30 million over seven years, angered O'Neal. On Saturday he called the offer "almost a smack in the face."

But barring an unforeseen hitch in last-minute negotiations, the re-signing of O'Neal was expected to be announced by the Trail Blazers on Monday.

"My intention is to come back to the Blazers, and I want to come back," O'Neal said. "It was hard thinking about walking away from that city."

Portland drafted O'Neal out of Eau Claire High School in Columbia with the 17th pick in 1996. He made $1.1 million last season in the final year of his rookie contract.

The newspaper also reported that the Blazers are the favorite to sign free agent forward Detlef Schrempf. Schrempf is currently being wooed by a number of teams, including San Antonio and Utah.

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