- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 5, 2006

The Washington Wizards are set to announce this morning that they have signed shooting guard DeShawn Stevenson to a two-year contract, according to two NBA sources.

The deal — reported first on ESPN.com late Thursday — will pay Stevenson the league minimum of $932,015 in the first season. Stevenson has a player option in the second year.

The Wizards acquired the sturdy, 6-foot-4 Stevenson at a bargain price. Stevenson, who spent the last two-plus seasons in Orlando, opted out of the final year of a contract that would have paid him $3 million next season. That was shortly after he turned down a three-year, $10 million extension offered by Orlando.

“There just isn’t much money left out there,” agent Mark Bartelstein told ESPN. “This gives DeShawn an excellent opportunity to play significant minutes on a very good team. I think by next summer the rest of the league will see his real value and he’ll earn back the money he lost.”

The 23rd overall pick by Utah in the 2000 NBA Draft, Stevenson, 25, averaged 11.0 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.0 assists last season while starting all 82 games for Orlando.

While the Wizards did get Stevenson at a relatively low price, the signing has inched them closer to the luxury tax threshold — the point where teams must match every dollar by which they exceed the $64.5 million trigger.

With the addition of Stevenson, it appears unlikely that the Wizards will match the five-year, $30 million offer sheet to which the New York Knicks signed Jared Jeffries last week. The Wizards, who can pay Jeffries more than the Knicks, have until Monday to make a decision on Jeffries.

While the Wizards already have countered with a $33 million deal of their own, the deal was spread out over six years, not five.

The Knicks’ offer is somewhat difficult to counter because while the Wizards can match the contract New York has offered, the match must be identical to the offer sheet.

The Knicks have written into the offer sheet a one-time payout of 80 percent of the first year of the deal. The first year of the mid-level pays the player approximately $5.2 million.

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