Clock starts ticking for Timberwolves

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Trenton Hassell signed an offer sheet with the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday, giving Minnesota 15 days to decide whether it wants to match the offer and keep the restricted free agent.

The Blazers did not disclose the terms of the deal, but Hassell's agent, Mark Bartelstein, said it was worth $27 million over six years.

"They have to sort it out, and frankly the clock won't start
ticking until they see the offer sheet, which will be tomorrow,"
Trail Blazers general manager John Nash said. "Obviously they
don't want to lose a player like Trent Hassell, but on the other
hand they have to address what's best for them."

A Timberwolves spokesman said General Manager Kevin McHale
declined to comment.

Hassell started 74 games for Minnesota last season after two
seasons for the Chicago Bulls, who picked him in the second round
of the 2001 draft.

Defense is the 6-foot-5 guard's specialty.

"There's a lot of scorers in this league, but there's not a lot
of people ... who are willing to sacrifice and play defense,"
Hassell said. "When I first started out I had no choice -- that was
the only way I was going to get to play. So I kind of got a
reputation and I did well at it."

Blazers coach Maurice Cheeks said Hassell is just what the
Blazers need.

"It makes our defense a lot better. I think that's what we need
to win ball games," Cheeks said.

Hassell averaged 5.0 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists per
game while shooting 46.5 percent from the field and 78.7 percent
from the free throw line for the Timberwolves during the regular
season. He averaged 7.7 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists in
Minnesota's 18 playoff games.