Iron Dog leaders rest in Ruby
The team of Marc McKenna of Anchorage and Eric Quam of Eagle River, the leader in the Iron Dog 2000 snowmobile race, pulled into the Ruby checkpoint en route to Fairbanks from Nome at 9:31 p.m. Thursday.
In second place, Kasilof's Dusty Van Meter and teammate Todd Palin of Wasilla were taking a layover at the Galena checkpoint, along with the fourth-place team of Kenai's Doug Brewer and James Dick of Seward.
The team of Steve Sholin and Rick Bailey, both of Soldotna, was in 11th place and taking a layover in Unalakleet Thursday night while the team of Jackie McGahan of Kenai and Dwayne Drake of Wasilla left Unalakleet at 8:02 p.m. but had not taken a layover on the Nome-to-Fairbanks leg of the race. The team of Soldotna's Scott Davis and Kirk Hibbert of Minnesota, running in 21st position, opted to layover in White Mountain Thursday night. Soldotna's Lane Giesler, racing with Anchorage's Calvin Frey Jr., scratched in Nome.
Only two deals made at NBA trading deadline
Mark Cuban made a major trade with Denver, adding Nick Van Exel and Raef LaFrentz to his first-place Dallas Mavericks, while Marc Jackson went from Golden State to Minnesota for a relatively minor price.
Van Exel, LaFrentz, Avery Johnson and Tariq Abdul-Wahad were traded from Denver to Dallas for Juwan Howard, Tim Hardaway, Donnell Harvey, cash and a first-round pick in the 2002 draft.
Minnesota acquired Jackson from the Warriors for center Dean Garrett and a future second-round pick.
Those two trades were the only ones made before the NBA's 6 p.m. EST deadline, bringing this week's total to four. Chicago and Indiana pulled off a seven-player trade Tuesday, and Boston made a five-player deal with Phoenix on Wednesday.
Denver general manager Kiki Vandeweghe had been trying all month to find a team willing to take Van Exel without having to include LaFrentz in the deal, but in the end the trade with the Mavericks was his best remaining option.
It was the second major deadline deal in as many years by Cuban, the billionaire owner of the Mavericks.
''I love this team, which has probably played at a higher level than any I ever had,'' said coach Don Nelson, whose Mavericks began the night atop the Midwest Division with a record of 37-17. ''But I don't think our team is any better than the others that we are fighting for a playoff position.
''I think this may elevate us, and I hope it will give us a real chance to win our division.''
Van Exel and LaFrentz were Denver's two leading scorers, and Johnson started at point guard for the Nuggets while Van Exel sat out the past five games with an inflamed elbow.
Agent Tony Dutt said Van Exel agreed to some deferrals in his current contract. He declined to provide details. Van Exel had said he was willing to give up some of the guaranteed $26.5 million in the final two years of his contract.
Howard was attractive to the Nuggets because his $20.5 million salary comes off their salary cap after next season. Howard was averaging 12.9 points and 7.4 rebounds for the Mavericks, who began the night atop the Midwest Division with a record of 37-17.
Hardaway had been coming off the bench for Dallas as the backup point guard, while Harvey had played in only 18 games.
Van Exel, a point guard, will be joining a team that already has one of the league's best playmakers -- All-Star Steve Nash. He also will be playing for an assistant coach, Del Harris, whom he clashed with while the two were together several years ago with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Van Exel will move into Hardaway's role as the backup, although he will sometimes play alongside Nash, Nelson said.
LaFrentz will provide an upgrade at center, a position that the Mavericks have manned this season with Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Bradley, Wang Zhi-Zhi, Danny Manning and Evan Eschmeyer. Nowitzki will now be able to play exclusively at power forward.
Abdul-Wahad, a shooting guard, missed 31 games after undergoing knee surgery earlier this season. He averaged 6.8 points and 3.9 rebounds. Johnson was averaging 9.4 points and 5.1 assists for Denver.
The Nuggets-Timberwolves trade wasn't agreed upon until 10 minutes before the deadline.
''I looked at the guys who were in the room with me and said this is another typical trading day,'' Timberwolves general manager Kevin McHale said.
But McHale picked up the phone and gave one last call to Warriors general manager Garry St. Jean, who said Golden State still had not found a taker for the 6-foot-10 center who was a first-team All-Rookie selection last season.
''There were no other trade offers. This was the only offer we received,'' St. Jean said. ''There were not any deals in the last 48 hours that worked for both parties in terms of the luxury tax and the salary cap.''
After conferring with owner Glen Taylor, McHale got the go-ahead to acquire Jackson for a player, Garrett, who was not contributing and a second-round pick in 2007.
''Yeah, I feel lucky,'' Minnesota general manager Kevin McHale said. ''I'm glad to give him a chance to play for a winning team.''
Jackson plans to join the Timberwolves in San Antonio for their game Saturday night.
The 6-foot-10, 270-pound Jackson averaged 4.9 points and 2.5 rebounds for the Warriors this season, his second with the team. He was a first-team All-Rookie selection last year when he averaged 13.2 points and 7.5 rebounds.
Jackson signed a six-year, $24 million offer sheet with Houston before the start of this season, but he was a restricted free agent and the Warriors matched the offer.
Golden State had been trying since December to trade him, and Jackson sat out the last 16 games as coach Brian Winters said he would use the players who planned to be with the team for the rest of the season.
Jackson had the right to veto any deal, and he expanded his original list of three acceptable teams to include the Timberwolves, among others.
Under NBA rules, the Rockets were not eligible to acquire him in a trade for one year.
''You kept hearing stuff about how it was a done deal in places like Phoenix or New York,'' McHale said, ''and every place you heard was a team that needed a physical presence. But slowly, it just didn't happen.
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