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Laettner close to deal with 'Wolves

Christian Laettner is close to signing a six-year contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves, negotiators on both sides said Tuesday.

"There are reports that we're all done that I wish were true," Timberwolves president Bob Stein said. "We're getting close, but until the deal is finalized, you never know."

Said Laettner's agent, Arn Tellem: "We're very close, but it's not a done deal yet."

Laettner, the third overall pick in the 1992 NBA draft, could not be reached for comment.

The Timberwolves, who began workouts last Friday, wrap up the first part of training camp today at St. Cloud State. They then return to Minneapolis before leaving for Thursday night's preseason opener against the New Jersey Nets at Grand Forks, N.D.

"I'm hopeful that we can get him here in time for him to play in our first game," Stein said.

"Assuming everything moves ahead, he can be there," Tellem said. "But there are still some issues that are unresolved. That's the problem. It's definitely not a done deal."

Neither Stein nor Tellem would confirm reports that Laettner's six-year deal would be worth between $20-million and $22-million.

If Laettner signs, he'd become the third of this year's top eight NBA draft choices with contracts. No. 1 Shaquille O'Neal agreed to a seven-year, $40-million deal with Orlando in August.

Bullets sign MacLean

LANDOVER, Md. _ The Washington Bullets signed Don MacLean to a multiyear contract Tuesday. Terms of the deal were not announced.

The 6-foot-10 forward was acquired along with William Bedford from the Los Angeles Clippers earlier this month in exchange for forward John Williams.

MacLean, 22, originally was drafted by the Detroit Pistons as the 19th pick overall in the 1992 draft. He was traded on draft day along with Bedford to the Clippers for Olden Polynice and two draft choices.

Nets: Starting small forward Chris Morris signed a new three-year contract that will earn him a little under $1.8-million annually.

Celtics: A year after taking over from Larry Bird as Boston's top scorer, Reggie Lewis has succeeded him as team captain. Veterans Robert Parish and Kevin McHale picked Lewis, starting his sixth season with the Celtics, to replace the retired Bird.

Clippers: Linked for parts of three decades, by friendship as well as basketball, Larry Brown and Kiki Vandeweghe are reunited.

Late Sunday night, Brown and the Clippers signed free agent Vandeweghe to a one-year contract for $140,000. Vandeweghe said other NBA teams were interested and European clubs were willing to toss around lira and francs, but he took the deal for the league minimum for two basic reasons: location and the chance to play again for Brown, his coach at UCLA.

Mavericks: Guard Fat Lever does not expect to play for Dallas this season because of swelling in his knees. Lever has missed nine of the team's first 10 practices.

Up next:How it began