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Ratliff leaves Wolves, heads to Detroit

Source:ap.org Author:LARRY LAGE Date:03/25/14 Click:

DETROIT - The Detroit Pistons are expected to add center Theo Ratliff next week, a person familiar with the upcoming transaction told The Associated Press on Friday.
 
The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal couldn't yet be completed, said the move will be made on Tuesday.

The Minnesota Timberwolves requested waivers on Ratliff after reaching an agreement on a buyout of his contract. About one-third of Ratliff's $11.6 million salary remained for this season, but vice president Kevin McHale said the Timberwolves will pay him "a little less" than that.

Ratliff's agent approached the team about the move, which will allow more time down the stretch for young post players like Chris Richard and Craig Smith.

Ratliff's contract was expiring at the end of the season, and the Timberwolves — who have the worst record in the Western Conference — are busy evaluating what they've got for the future. The Wolves have bought out guard Troy Hudson, forward Juwan Howard and now Ratliff over the past seven months.

Forward Antoine Walker wants a buyout, too, but he's unwilling to forgo much of the remainder of his $8.5 million salary this season or a $9.3 million figure next season. The Wolves have made an offer, but an agreement by Saturday didn't appear imminent.

"They said they weren't comfortable with that, and that's where it is," McHale said.

Walker could be a valuable trade asset this summer.

Ratliff came to Minnesota from Boston in the Kevin Garnett trade and has played in only 10 games. The 34-year-old was relatively productive when he played, but a knee injury kept him on the sideline for 45 games. Ratliff returned to action last week.

Because he was let go before Saturday's deadline, he can sign with another team and be eligible for the playoff roster.

The Pistons can use him, too.

Detroit, which has the second-best record in the NBA, has been looking for frontcourt depth since sending center Primoz Brezec to Toronto for guard Juan Dixon last week.

The 6-foot-10, 235-pound Ratliff began his NBA career in Detroit, where he played from 1995 until he was dealt to the Philadelphia 76ers in a December 1997 trade that sent Jerry Stackhouse to the Pistons.

Ratliff later played for Atlanta, Portland and Boston before the trade last summer. He has averaged 8 points and 6.2 rebounds during his career, and 6.3 points and 3.9 rebounds per game this season.

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