- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Washington Wizards and coach Eddie Jordan have agreed on a contract extension for Jordan that will be announced soon, possibly today, The Washington Times has learned.

The deal will pay Jordan approximately $12.5 million over three guaranteed seasons. The team will have the option for a fourth, according to team and league sources reached yesterday.

Jordan’s new deal will begin at the end of the 2006-07 season. The first year of the deal is believed to be for $3.8 million, and the other two years are believed to be worth $4.2 million and between $4.5 million and $4.6 million. Wizards president of basketball operations Ernie Grunfeld said more than two weeks ago that the team was going to give Jordan — who has led the team into the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time in 18 years — an extension.

Grunfeld’s comments came just two days after All-Star guard Gilbert Arenas told The Washington Times he would consider opting out of his contract at the end of the 2007-08 season if the team does not appear to be building toward a championship level. Arenas also said he wanted Jordan back as coach.

Over four seasons — including slightly more than one in Sacramento — Jordan is 145-198 as an NBA coach.

In his first season here, the Wizards posted a 25-57 record. The next season, Jordan coached the team to 45 wins and its first postseason appearance since the Chicago Bulls swept Washington in three games in 1997.

The Wizards won a playoff series in 2005 for the first time in 23 seasons, advancing to the second round before being eliminated by Miami.

This past season, the Wizards won 42 games despite losing their best defender, Larry Hughes, to free agency last summer. Cleveland eliminated them in the first round of the playoffs.

Jordan’s job won’t get any easier. The team must build on its two straight playoff appearances, and improvement could be difficult with Arenas evaluating whether he wants to remain in Washington.

The Wizards have not been active in free agency this summer. A stalemate has developed between the team and starting guard/forward Jared Jeffries.

Jeffries is a restricted free agent, meaning the Wizards can match any offer he receives. However, only Atlanta, Toronto and Charlotte have enough money under the salary cap to give Jeffries a significant offer. As a result, it is unlikely that Jeffries will receive any offers better than the mid-level exception, which pays slightly more than $5 million annually with incremental raises.

According to sources with knowledge of the negotiations, Jeffries will consider signing a one-year qualifying offer from the Wizards for just less than $3 million. That would make him an unrestricted free agent next summer.


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