The second-highest paid player on the Minnesota Timberwolves will not be welcome at training camp. Instead, center Mark Blount will stay home after the Wolves gave his agent permission to seek a trade.
Blount, acquired from Miami in mid-August for Quentin Richardson, is due to make $7.962,500 this season in the last year of his six-year, $42 million contract. But with Minnesota in full rebuilding mode, general manager David Kahn told ESPN.com Wednesday that the club has given Blount's agent, Mark Bartlestein, permission to seek out a trade.
Blount spent the past two seasons with the Miami Heat after playing the previous year and a half for Minnesota. Kahn was candid right from the start about moving ahead without Blount, announcing the day after he acquired him that he hoped to re-trade the 33-year-old for a player or players with similar expiring contracts.
Minnesota has veterans Blount ($7.9 million), Brian Cardinal ($6.75 million) and Antonio Daniels ($6.6 million) coming off the cap in the summer of 2010, when Minnesota will be far under the salary cap with Al Jefferson ($13 million), Ryan Gomes ($4.2 million) and Ramon Sessions ($4 million) the only high-salaries veterans on the payroll.
Blount, a seven-footer often criticized for his inability to rebound on a consistent, productive basis, had his best season statistics-wise in 2006-07 when he averaged 12.3 points and 6.2 rebounds while starting 81 of 82 games for Minnesota.
Blount appeared in 20 games for the Heat last season, and Kahn took some criticism when he sapped the Wolves' backcourt depth by trading Richardson for him six weeks ago. But since then, Kahn has signed guards Sasha Pavlovic and Ramon Sessions to add depth in the backcourt behind Damien Wilkins and rookie Wayne Ellington. The minutes at backup center that Blount would have competed for will instead go to Ryan Hollins, the free agent signee from Dallas.
If Bartlestein cannot find a taker for Blount in a trade over the course of the preseason, the likely next step would be for the sides to negotiate a buyout.
Chris Sheridan covers the NBA for ESPN.com.