- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 30, 2005

The Washington Wizards extended qualifying contract offers yesterday to forward Kwame Brown, who was suspended at the end of last season, and guard Steve Blake.

The offers make the players restricted free agents, so the Wizards have the right to match any offer made by another NBA team this offseason.

It would cost the Wizards substantially more money to keep Brown, the No.1 overall pick in 2001, than Blake, whom they selected 38th overall in 2003.

Brown averaged 7.0 points and 4.9 rebounds in 42 games last season, slightly below his four-year career averages of 7.7 points and 5.5 rebounds. He has yet to fulfill the potential that made him the first high school player to go first in an NBA Draft.

He was suspended for most of the postseason after missing a practice and Game4 of the Wizards’ first-round playoff series against the Chicago Bulls.

“There is no saying that he won’t be back with us,” Washington president of basketball operations Ernie Grunfeld said last month. “We’ll explore all of our options. We’ll meet with him and his representatives and see where we are. There is a possibility that he will be back with us.”

Blake averaged 4.4 points and 1.5 assists in his second NBA season. He was a second-round draft pick in 2003 after helping Maryland win the 2002 NCAA championship.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.


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