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MavsFanFinley
07-18-2002, 10:29 PM
Sonics get their center back for 2002-03
By JIM COUR
AP Sports Writer
July 18, 2002

SEATTLE (AP) -- The Seattle SuperSonics will have Jerome James in the middle again next season.

The 7-foot-1, 285-pound James, who started at center in 40 games in his first season with the Sonics, re-signed Thursday night.

The Sonics gave the restricted free agent a three-year contract. No terms were disclosed.

``I think it's good because it helps solidify our center position,'' general manager Rick Sund said. ``We have three centers and all three play a different game.''

The Sonics also have 6-11 Calvin Booth, who was injured most of last season, and 6-11 Predrag Drobnjak.

The Sonics now will turn most of their attention to re-signing Rashard Lewis, who was their second-leading scorer at 16.8 points and top rebounder at 7.0 last season as the starting small forward.

Chicago, Washington and the Los Angeles Clippers all have money under the NBA's salary cap, but the Sonics can offer Lewis the most money.

Lewis, who will be 23 on Aug. 8, is believed to want the maximum to stay in Seattle: a $102 million, seven-year contract.

The Sonics think they can re-sign the unrestricted free agent.

``He likes the direction of our club and he likes Nate as do a lot of players,'' Sund said, referring to coach Nate McMillan. ``Nate has a big influence. Our team is growing in the right direction and he's going to be a big part of it.''

New York, Portland, Dallas and Memphis reportedly were interested in James.

``Jerome's got a presence in the low post,'' Sund said. ``He was our biggest player last season. He's legitimately big. He's got size.''

James, who played at Florida A&M, was a major surprise for the Sonics last season, when they made it back to the playoffs with a 45-37 record before losing in the first round in five games to San Antonio. Playing in 56 games, he averaged 5.3 points and 4.1 rebounds in 16.9 minutes while leading the team with 86 blocked shots.

James, 26, played 16 games and 42 minutes with Sacramento in 1998-99 and was signed by the Sonics as a free agent last Sept. 5. He earned $465,850 last season.

The Sonics are also hoping to re-sign restricted free agent point guard Earl Watson, who became Gary Payton's backup last season.

LonestarROB
07-18-2002, 10:35 PM
Would've been nice to see him in a Mavs uni. Oh well.

Rhylan
07-18-2002, 10:48 PM
I wonder what they gave him money-wise. The teams with the cap space to beat Seattle apparently weren't interested... so I bet it's a good bit less than the mid-level.

Dooby
07-19-2002, 08:11 AM
I get the feeling that in a year or two, there will be a lot of trades between teams involving guys for the mid-level exception. There are so many guys making the same money out there that it makes sense.

TheKid
07-19-2002, 10:10 AM
Supposedly he was going to sign with the Knicks.. He was just there Monday and they really tried to woo him like they did in the free agency frenzy of the past... However obviously that didn't work...