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T-Wolves trade Hart to Suns, not Hornets

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP)

The Minnesota Timberwolves' trade of backup point guard Jason Hart didn't exactly go as smoothly as planned.

Hours after mistakenly letting a release leak on the team Web site announcing a trade with New Orleans that never came to fruition, the Timberwolves did ship Hart out after all, to the Suns.

Instead of ending up with Devin Brown from the Hornets, the Wolves landed Alando Tucker, a second-round pick and cash considerations from Phoenix.

Timberwolves president David Kahn was in talks with the Hornets about acquiring Brown, a 6-foot-5 guard shooting a career-high 41 percent from 3-point range this season. The Hornets were looking to dump Brown's $1.1 million salary and the Wolves needed perimeter shooting.

Kahn went so far as to prepare a statement for the deal.

"Jason has been the consummate professional during his time with us, but it was a rare opportunity to add a proven player with 3-point shooting capabilities that will help our offense," Kahn said. "Devin should be a nice addition to our team defensively, as well. He has a reputation as a tough kid and hard-nosed defender."

Just one problem - the deal wasn't done. The release somehow found its way into cyberspace, and the trade never materialized. So it was removed from the site and the Wolves eventually announced a deal with the Suns for Tucker, a 6-6 forward that has had trouble finding playing time in three seasons in Phoenix.

"All I know is we were in conversations with teams," Wolves coach Kurt Rambis said before Minnesota's game at San Antonio on Tuesday night.

Ted Johnson, Timberwolves senior vice president for communications and chief marketing officer, said the release on Brown appeared on a "dead" Web page. Johnson explained that the team builds various Web pages in anticipation of breaking news. The Wolves, he said, never activated or published the page on Brown. But a freelance writer managed to find the page during a Google search.

"For some reason, the writer found the page," Johnson said. "We just don't know how that happened yet."

The Suns, who also are looking to save money, waived Hart. The nine-year veteran appeared in only one game for the young and rebuilding Timberwolves this season, serving as a mentor of sorts for younger point guards Jonny Flynn and Ramon Sessions.

Tucker was selected by the Suns with the 29th pick in the 2007 draft. Tucker was the Big Ten player of the year and a first-team All-American at Wisconsin in 2007.

In two-plus years with Phoenix, Tucker played in 47 games. He averaged 3.9 points and 6.5 minutes in 11 games this season.

"I want to thank Jason Hart for being a consummate professional with us," Kahn said in another prepared statement. "This was a very hard trade to make precisely because Jason has been so helpful to our team both on and off the court. We wish him well.

"We are eager to have Alando join us this week. Everything we know about him is that he is a hardworking young man who has not had the opportunity for significant playing time.

"Finally, this was an opportunity for us to acquire a second-round pick in next year's draft which is another asset for our team."

This time, Kahn meant it.

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