PHILADELPHIA (AP) -The 76ers are close to trading forward Rodney Carney and a future No. 1 pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves in a deal that clears salary cap space for Philadelphia to make a stronger push for free agents, a person in the NBA told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the trade had not yet been completed and the NBA trade moratorium is not lifted until Wednesday.
The 76ers will throw in reserve forward Calvin Booth, but are working out the particulars of what they will get back from Minnesota.
A proposed trade between the teams was first reported by
the post player they badly need to become contenders in the Eastern Conference.
The Sixers had Smith in town for a visit last week but did not give the restricted free agent an offer sheet. As he's a restricted free agent, the Hawks can match any offer made to the 6-foot-9, 235-pound Smith.
Brand would clearly be the Sixers best option. Brand opted out last week of his contract with the Clippers, but Los Angeles is expected to make a strong push to re-sign him. Brand had said he plans to stay with the Clippers despite his decision, even if he must accept a contract below the NBA maximum for free agents.
Smith or Brand could make the Sixers instant contenders in the Eastern Conference. They were one of the surprise teams in the league last season, going 40-42 and stretching Detroit to six games in the first round of the playoffs. One thing they lacked was an athletic, consistent scorer at power forward.
Smith would be a good fit for the up-tempo Sixers and would be a huge upgrade over last year's power forward, Reggie Evans. He's one of the premier shot blockers in the league and could team with starting center Samuel Dalembert and small forward Thaddeus Young to form one of the top frontcourts in the Eastern Conference.
The deal allows the rebuilding Timberwolves, who have long been one of the worst cap managers in the league, to continue putting themselves in a position to be a major player on the free agent markets in 2009 and 2010.
Carney has one year remaining on his contract with a team option for 2009-10, while Booth will come off the books at the end of the upcoming season, unless a buyout agreement is reached before that.
The work started last season, when they traded Blount and Ricky Davis to Miami for Antoine Walker, Michael Doleac and Wayne Simien, allowing them to rid themselves of Blount's bloated contract.
On draft night in June, the Timberwolves were able to unload the Marko Jaric's hefty deal, shipping him to Memphis with O.J. Mayo, Walker and Greg Buckner for Kevin Love, Mike Miller, Jason Collins and Brian Cardinal. All three of the Grizzlies in that deal have contracts that will expire no later than 2010.
That freedom will allow the team to pursue a big-name free agent or two to supplement a rising young core group of Al Jefferson, Randy Foye, Corey Brewer and Rashad McCants.
As a secondary prize on the court in the Philly deal, Carney will give them an athletic swingman who averaged 5.8 points and 2.1 rebounds in his second season out of Memphis. Booth, if he stays, will give the team a little more depth at center behind Jefferson and Collins.
AP Sports Writer Jon Krawczynski in Minneapolis contributed to this report.

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