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Laettner signs with Minnesota

Christian Laettner, the ultimate Big Man on Campus the last two years at Duke, became a freshman again Wednesday.

And that's okay with Laettner, the newest member of the Timberwolves and the richest Minnesota athlete ever.

"The most fun I had at Duke wasn't my two championship years, it was my freshman year," said Laettner, who signed a six-year, $21.6-million contract.

"That's the biggest time of growth, that's the biggest time of proving yourself as a person and a player. And that's extremely fun, extremely exciting."

Laettner's $21.6-million pact is the richest ever by a Minnesota athlete, topping the five-year, $14-million deal Kent Hrbek signed with the Twins in 1989.

Laettner's average salary will be $3.6-million, beginning with $2.1-million this season and ecalating to $5-million in the contract's final year.

Around the league

Bucks: Moses Malone's appearance at training camp was delayed four days by painful divorce proceedings. Now, after one practice, the 16-year veteran has been sidelined by a herniated disc.

Malone, 37, will be unable to practice for a week to 10 days after a magnetic resonance imaging test discovered the herniated disc during a preseason physical.

Malone received an injection to reduce the inflammation.

"We'll re-evaluate next week," Bucks coach Mike Dunleavy said. "In most cases, the way it was it explained to me, at his age and if he wants to continue beyond this year, he may need an operation."

76ers: Philadelphia signed center-forward Eddie Lee Wilkins after learning starting center Andrew Lang will be sidelined at least through the exhibition season with a stress fracture in his left leg.