Sixers' trade of Carney, Booth to Wolves paves way for Brand signing

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Timberwolves completed a trade with Philadelphia on Wednesday that gave the Wolves another first-round draft pick and paved the way for the 76ers to sign star power forward Elton Brand.

The Sixers sent swingman Rodney Carney, veteran center Calvin Booth, a protected first-round draft pick and cash to Minnesota for a conditional second-round draft pick. The Timberwolves used a $2.8 million trade exception gained from a trade last December with Miami to make the finances match.

The first-rounder is one Philadelphia acquired in a trade with Utah for shooter Kyle Korver last season. The Wolves will get it if the Jazz pick lower than 22nd in 2009, 17th in 2010, 15th in 2011, 16th in 2012 or 16th in 2013.

Minnesota also gets an athletic former first-round pick in Carney, who can get out and run with a young team that wants to play an up-tempo style next season.

Vice president of basketball operations Kevin McHale said he told Carney: "There's some competition out there for you. How well you do and what you do will be totally predicated on your effort and your talent. Come on in here and try to win some time.

"We've got a young team and he fits in with what we're doing," McHale added.

While Booth is unlikely to play in Minnesota this season and Carney appears to be a role player at best, the trade continues to help the Timberwolves position themselves as major players in the free-agent market in the near future.

At this time a year ago, the Wolves were saddled with bad contracts on a poorly assembled team that had missed the playoffs for two straight seasons.

The process of getting one of the league's worst salary cap situations under control started with the trade of Kevin Garnett to Boston last July. In October, McHale sent Ricky Davis and Mark Blount to Miami for Antoine Walker, Michael Doleac and Wayne Simien, all of whom are off the team's books now.

On draft night, they got rid of Marko Jaric's albatross of a deal that had three years and more than $21 million left, Walker's hefty contract and Greg Buckner in the deal that sent O.J. Mayo to Memphis in exchange for Kevin Love, Mike Miller, Jason Collins and Brian Cardinal. None of the Grizzlies acquired in that deal have contracts extending past 2009-10.

Now, the Wolves are still over the salary cap, but under the luxury tax with a young base that includes Al Jefferson, Randy Foye, Rashad McCants and Love. And they are getting ready to have large cap room after the upcoming season and even more the following year.

"That's the mode we're in right now -- get flexibility, get young guys and get them better," McHale said.

There is still plenty of work to be done. McHale is talking to restricted free agents Ryan Gomes and Craig Smith about returning and also said he would like to bring unrestricted free agent point guard Sebastian Telfair back next season. He would also like to add a versatile player who could play point guard, shooting guard and small forward, like Jaric did last season.

"Ideally, I'd love to get another combo guy and a point guard," McHale said Tuesday morning. "We've got some stuff going on. Tomorrow morning a lot of the dust will have settled and you'll see a lot of stuff [start to take shape]."

The Associated Press left a phone message with Telfair's agent, Andy Miller.

McHale's preference is to let the big shoppers -- like Philadelphia, Golden State, Orlando and the Clippers -- spend the big money first and let the market calm down before he starts negotiating heavily with less coveted players.

"With Sebastian, Craig Smith, Ryan Gomes, all these guys, we want them here," McHale said. "But the bottom line is we won 22 games last year. Granted, we finished a lot better and played much, much better the second half of the season.

"If we won 62 games, I think the need to sign those guys and maybe chase their money would be a little bit more. But at 22, you're kind of in the let's wait and see mode."