When the season ended I had my routine “exit interview” with Phil Jackson and Mitch Kupchak (Lakers GM). They told me that they weren’t sure what direction they were headed in as far as free agency was concerned but that if they were interested in re-signing me, they’d let me know. As the free agency process progressed, Karl Malone indicated publicly that he would come to the Lakers if Gary Payton came. When Karl expressed the interest, the Lakers didn’t have as strong an interest in re-signing me. It wasn’t personal, it was just a business decision.
After Karl signed with LA, the Lakers let me know through my agent, Arn Tellem, that I was still high on their list of people to sign, but that I was number two, behind a player who could play power forward and center. They said that they were quite confident they could sign this player and advised me to explore my other options. So, I explored other options and at the time and two serious offers emerged–Dallas and Minnesota.
I talked to Donn Nelson once and was impressed with the Mavericks organization. But then when Kevin McHale, Flip Saunders, and Glenn Taylor called me and shared the direction the Timberwolves were headed, it became an easy decision. Glenn Taylor (owner of Timberwolves) and I must have had two conversations that lasted close to an hour each time. I signed with Minnesota and that very same day, the Lakers announced that they had reached an agreement with Horace Grant, a personal friend of mine and a great addition to the Lakers.
It worked out well for all parties involved. I was privileged to have three great years in LA. Now I’m in Minnesota and I love it. We’re having a great year here in MN and we’re looking to make a run at the title. Jonathan, we think the championship goes through Minneapolis. 🙂
All the best and thanks for the question.