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Henry, Grizzlies remain in contract stalemate
GREENBURGH, N.Y. (AP) - Xavier Henry slipped on a blue Memphis Grizzlies jersey with his name and the No. 13 on it.
Still to be determined is if he will wear it in games.
The first-round pick still hasn't signed his contract, with the Grizzlies not willing to guarantee the maximum salary allowable under the rookie scale.
Teams can pay players up to 120 percent of their scale amount, which this season is about $1.7 million for the No. 12 pick. However, the Grizzlies would like to tie the extra 20 percent to bonuses.
So the swingman from Kansas remains unsigned, saying Tuesday he is working out, but otherwise just waiting for a call and isn't sure what will happen.
"I'm letting my agent take care of the contract situation so I'm just sitting here waiting for the word," Henry said at the New York Knicks' training facility, where he was photographed for his Panini trading card.
"I talk to my agent all the time, he just calls and checks up on me, sees how I'm doing, and just says 'we're still working on it, we're sending them letters, they're talking to us, but nothing happening yet.' So I'm not sure what's going to happen."
The agent, Arn Tellem, says the Grizzlies are trying to make Henry meet performance bonuses, such as making the rookie challenge at All-Star weekend or being named to one of the all-rookie teams. He says only one player out of more than 450 since the rookie salary scale was instituted in 1995 has agreed to a performance bonus.
"Basic fairness and equality are fundamental aspects of every positive organization-player relationship, and those concepts are totally absent from the Grizzlies' current proposal to Xavier," Tellem said.
Tellem said Henry would agree to bonuses that are frequently offered to reach the full 120 percent, such as taking part in conditioning programs or playing in the summer league, but said no other team in this draft had asked a player to accept a performance incentive.
Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace agreed with Tellem that the performance bonuses are not something the Grizzlies have offered in the past, but noted other teams have put some bonuses in from time to time and the team decided to adopt the practice this year.
Greivis Vasquez, the Grizzlies' other first rounder, also hasn't signed for the same reason.
"We all would love to have all of our contracts done as soon as possible," Wallace said. "Every negotiation, whether it's these or something involving a big-name free agent ... they all take due time and go on their own course."
But Tellem said Henry has done nothing to deserve "disparate treatment" and that no player wants to be singled out. He merely wants Henry to be treated "in a manner commensurate with his peers and the value the Grizzlies associated him as the No. 12 pick. No better, no worse."
While Wallace and Tellem try to work it out, Henry continues to wait. And he seems to have no anger toward the Grizzlies organization.
"Whatever team I go to, I'm going to try to bring my best," he said. "If it is Memphis, I'm still going to try to bring my best even though this contract thing is going on, because I know the coaches have called me, they're saying it's just like the owner and the organization, so it's not them saying we don't want to pay you 120 percent. So I still know my coaches and my teammates want me there, so I'm going to give them my best effort."
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