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NBA salary cap for next season set at $58.68m
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National Basketball Association clubs will work under a salary cap of $58.68 million for the 2008-09 season, the league announced on Wednesday as the NBA free-agency signing period began.

The salary limit for each NBA team went into effect as teams were allowed to begin making trades and signing free agents following a moratorium period in which deals could not be finalized so a final cap figure could be calculated.

The cap is up $3.05 million from last season.

The luxury tax for the upcoming season was set at $71.150 million compared to $67.865 million last season, meaning any team whose total salary exceeds $71.150 million next season will pay a tax on every dollar over the sum.

For every dollar over the cap, a dollar in tax will be paid.

The NBA's minimum salary, which every team must spend on talent, is $44.010 million, or 75 percent of the cap total.

The mid-level exception to salary cap limits is $5.585 million after being $5.356 million last season.

76ers snap up Brand

The Philadelphia 76ers have signed forward Elton Brand in one of the most significant free-agent deals of the offseason, the NBA team said in a statement on Wednesday.

Philadelphia did not release details of the deal but media reports said the 29-year-old had signed a five-year contract worth $82 million.

A two-time all-star, Brand opted out of the final year of his contract with the LA Clippers in order to enter free agency.

Brand had been with the Clippers for seven seasons after entering the NBA with Chicago in 1999 when he was the first overall pick in the draft and was joint rookie of the year.

The forward missed all but the last eight games of last season after he ruptured his left Achilles tendon last August.

In nine years in the NBA he has made 609 starts and averages 20.3 points.

"We are very excited about adding a player of Elton Brand's caliber," said 76ers general manager Ed Stefanski.

O'Neal trade official

The Toronto Raptors added a six-time all-star to their roster on Wednesday, acquiring American forward Jermaine O'Neal from the Indiana Pacers.

The Raptors also acquired the draft rights to forward Nathan Jawai while sending guard T.J. Ford, center Rasho Nesterovic, forward Maceo Baston and the draft rights of center Roy Hibbert to the Pacers.

The deal for O'Neal had been rumored at last month's National Basketball Association draft and became official when the league's free-agent moratorium ended Wednesday.

O'Neal will team with Olympian Chris Bosh in Toronto, giving the Raptors a potent offensive attack.

"In speaking to Jermaine you get an overwhelming sense that he is focused, determined and willing to do whatever it takes to help this team win basketball games," said Toronto GM Bryan Colangelo.

One of the big knocks on O'Neal has been his inability to stay healthy. The 29-year-old has not played at least 70 games in a season since appearing in 78 contests in 2003-04.

Last season, O'Neal was limited to 42 games due to knee troubles.

O'Neal's career has been a controversial one. In 2004, he was suspended 25 games for his role in an on-court brawl between Pacers players and Detroit Piston fans.

Grizzlies sign Marc Gasol

Spanish center Marc Gasol, younger brother of Los Angeles Lakers forward and all-star Pau Gasol, was signed by the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday.

The 23-year-old has played the last five seasons in the Spanish ACB League and was named Most Valuable Player for Akasvayu Girona after his 2007-08 campaign.

Memphis acquired the draft rights for the 7-foot-1 Gasol from the Lakers along with guard Javaris Crittenton, forward Kwame Brown, guard Aaron McKie, two first-round draft picks and cash considerations.

The deal was in exchange for a 2010 second-round pick and the older Gasol, who moved to the Lakers from Memphis in February.

Gasol junior, who averaged 16.2 points and 8.3 rebounds for Girona in 2007-08, will become the third Spaniard to play for the Grizzlies after his brother (2001-08) and Juan Carlos Navarro (2007-08).

The younger Gasol helped Spain win the gold medal at the 2006 World Championships and silver at the 2007 European Championships.

(Agencies via China Daily July 11, 2008)

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