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T-Wolves open minus Cassell

Sam Cassell was a no-show on the first day of Minnesota Timberwolves training camp Tuesday in Collegeville, Minn., sending a message that he was displeased by not getting a contract extension.

"He's not totally unhappy, he just feels it's time for him to look out for his interests," said Charles Tucker, Cassell's agent.

Tucker said he had not spoken with his client Tuesday and didn't know when Cassell would report for camp.

Cassell's contract calls for him to be paid $5.65 million this season and $6.1 million in 2005-06.

Tucker said Cassell, 34, wants to make sure that he's part of Minnesota's long-term plans.

Cassell posted career bests in scoring (19.8 points per game) and shooting (48.8 percent) during the regular season and made his first All-Star team in his first season with Minnesota, his 10th in the league.

He had successful surgery in June to repair torn cartilage in his hip.

Kevin McHale, the Timberwolves' vice president of basketball operations, said Cassell should have been at camp at St. John's University. "Sam's under contract, we expect him to be here," he said.

When asked what he thought was the best way to resolve the situation, he said, "You have to ask Sam that."

MOURNING GOES EASY: Alonzo Mourning wasn't ready Tuesday to put too much strain on his body, and the New Jersey Nets weren't rushing Mourning along in his attempt to become the second NBA player to return after a kidney transplant.

Mourning lifted weights, shot around and did stretching exercises on the Nets' first day of training camp in East Rutherford, N.J., but did not participate in contact drills.

"I'm not going to get it all back in one week," Mourning said. "I've got to read my body, and I've got to be smart about this. I want to live another 50 years, that's the most important thing here."

Mourning underwent transplant surgery 10 months ago, receiving a kidney donated by a cousin he hadn't seen since childhood, James Cooper. Mourning was diagnosed in 2000 with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, which ultimately forced him to leave the Nets last November after a comeback attempt.

Mourning still feels side effects from the anti-rejection medication he is taking, but he's much less fatigued than he was a year ago when he reported for training camp after signing a four-year contract with the Nets.

OKAFOR SLIPS UP: Emeka Okafor quickly is learning the dos and don'ts of being an NBA rookie. Rule No. 1: Don't promise to dunk on Shaquille O'Neal.

Okafor made that mistake last week at a news conference with 300 schoolchildren to promote a preseason game between his expansion Charlotte Bobcats and O'Neal's Miami Heat. Getting little reaction from the crowd, he tried to excite the kids.

"Come on!" he yelled. "Don't you guys want to see me dunk on Shaq?"

Charlotte management, aware of the TV crews in attendance, immediately cringed. In the days since then, the No. 2 pick in the NBA draft has taken a ton of ribbing about it.

"Will I dunk on Shaq? The likelihood of that happening is very small," he said. "You've got to put in perspective where I said that."

NEW NUGGET ATTITUDE: Tired of the constant elbows he was receiving from Nene, Kenyon Martin wheeled and punched his new teammate in the eye.

Training camp hadn't even started, yet already it was clear there's a different attitude in Denver. A year after hoping to get better with emerging star Carmelo Anthony, the Nuggets are expecting even bigger things with Martin added to the mix.

"This is what we imagined, this is what we're here for, this is, as a coach, what I embrace," Nuggets coach Jeff Bzdelik said. "I want this pressure, I want to see this team be all it can be."