- The Washington Times - Monday, August 7, 2006

The Washington Wizards will not match the five-year, $30 million offer sheet restricted free agent Jared Jeffries received from New York last week, two league sources confirmed last night.

Had the Wizards matched the Knicks’ offer to the 6-foot-11 Jeffries, the team would have exceeded the $64.5 million luxury threshold and been forced to pay a dollar-for-dollar tax.

With Jeffries’ departure, the Wizards will lose their best defender via free agency for the second straight year. The team lost first-team All-NBA defender Larry Hughes, an unrestricted free agent, to Cleveland last summer.

The Wizards, who selected Jeffries with the 11th overall pick in the 2002 draft, had countered the Knicks’ offer with a six-year, $33 million deal. While the Wizards offered more over the life of the deal, it was stretched out over an additional season.

Jeffries last season started all 77 games he played in. The team’s most versatile player and a favorite of coach Eddie Jordan’s, Jeffries played all five positions at various points in the season.

In four seasons with the Wizards, Jeffries averaged 6.1 points and 4.8 rebounds a game.

At one point during the negotiations, Jeffries was set to sign the Wizards’ one-year qualifying offer and become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Then the Knicks offered Jeffries their mid-level exception.

One aspect of the contract will result in a one-time 80 percent payout to Jeffries in the first year of his deal. It was also reported Jeffries’ contract contained a trade kicker.

However, one team source reached over the weekend said the most important consideration with bringing back Jeffries would be his value over the life of the contract, and whether or not it would prohibit the team from adding free agents in the future.

Because the Knicks are already over the luxury tax, Jeffries will cost the Knicks close to $11 million in the first year of the contract.

Jeffries has a good relationship with New York coach Isiah Thomas, who like Jeffries also played at Indiana. However, the Knicks are in shambles. They fired Larry Brown over the summer and they are coming off a horrendous season in which they finished last in the Atlantic Division with a 23-59 record.

The Wizards over the weekend agreed to a two-year deal with 6-foot-5 guard DeShawn Stevenson, who likely will compete to replace Jeffries in the starting lineup.

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