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Webber’s $74.4 Million Deal Doesn’t Guarantee Loyalty

From Associated Press

Golden State forward Chris Webber, the top pick in last year’s NBA draft and the league’s rookie of the year, has exercised a contract option that will make him a restricted free agent on Saturday.

Webber’s 15-year, $74.4 million contract contains a clause that allowed him to become a restricted free agent. After exercising the option, which was announced Tuesday, he may field offers from other teams.

Under league rules, the Warriors have 15 days to match any offer and re-sign Webber.

Don Nelson, Warriors coach and general manager, landed Webber in a stunning draft-day trade with the Orlando Magic, and the Warriors labored to squeeze his contract under the salary cap. Midway during the season, Webber reportedly was unhappy playing for Nelson, but the two patched things up and Webber averaged 17.5 points a game and led the team in rebounding.

His agent, Bill Strickland, said it was “highly probable” Webber would re-sign with the Warriors.

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“We’re anticipating being able to negotiate a contract based on Chris’ real value, absent a salary cap (slot),” Strickland said.

“The Warriors are in a position to sign him for more money than anyone else in the league.”

Dan Finnane, Warriors president, said the team wants to keep Webber, whom league coaches unanimously selected for the NBA all-rookie team.

The league’s youngest player, Webber led all rookies in rebounding (9.1 per game), field goal percentage (.552) and blocks (164).


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