- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Washington Wizards and coach Eddie Jordan completed a deal late Friday night for a three-year contract extension, making Jordan the team’s first coach to receive an extension since 1996.

“I’m glad that people see that we believe in continuity and consistency,” Jordan said yesterday. “We think the formula of having continuity and developing our players is the formula for success.”

Jordan’s contract — worth between $12 million and $12.5 million — is guaranteed for two seasons, beginning after the 2006-07 season, and the team has the option for a third.

The last Washington coach to receive an extension was Jim Lynam, who signed a two-year deal on May 21, 1996. However, Lynam was fired the next season after 46 games and replaced by Bernie Bickerstaff.

Already the longest-tenured coach in the Eastern Conference, Jordan — who was hired in June 2003 — said that despite the constant uncertainty over whether he would enter the final year of his contract without an extension, he was never concerned about his future.

“I really wasn’t,” said Jordan, who grew up in Southeast. “When you make the kind of salaries that we make, when you look out that window across the river where you grew up, you are just grateful. I’m grateful to [team owner Abe Pollin], to Ernie [Grunfeld, president of basketball operations]. It’s a good thing, I think, for everyone.”

Pollin hired both Grunfeld and Jordan within the span of less than two weeks. Jordan was hired first, a rare situation considering that general managers usually are given the chance to select their own coach.

However, a high-ranking Wizards source said Grunfeld took the initiative of going to Pollin and conveying the importance of getting an extension for Jordan before the team completed play in summer leagues.

“Eddie has done a very good job in leading our team to the playoffs over the past two seasons,” Grunfeld said in a statement. “We have a very young and talented team that has made great strides under Eddie’s leadership. This contract extension will provide our team with the kind of continuity and stability that we will need to have continued success in the future.”

Pollin echoed Grunfeld’s sentiments.

“I’m thrilled that Eddie Jordan will continue to guide our team on the floor,” the owner said in a statement. “Eddie has led our team to two consecutive playoff appearances and has been instrumental in the development of our young players. Additionally, he has been an exemplary representative of our franchise both on and off the floor. I’m proud of him.”

In Jordan’s first season with the team, Washington went 25-57. The following year the Wizards won 45 games and made the playoffs for the first time since 1997. That team was eliminated in the second round.

After losing 2004-05 NBA steals leader Larry Hughes to free agency, last season’s team won 42 games and was eliminated in the first round. The Wizards also mixed forward Caron Butler and guard Antonio Daniels into the rotation, and the team didn’t appear to jell until late in the season.

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