- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Washington Wizards don’t intend to offer a contract to restricted free agent Jarvis Hayes, a sign the team has given up on the oft-injured forward, according to a league source with knowledge of the situation.

The Wizards had not tendered a qualifying offer to Hayes as of last week, usually a formality in the restricted free agency process.

Repeated calls to Hayes and his agent, Dan Fagan, were not returned.

Meanwhile, it appears the Wizards and unrestricted free agent guard DeShawn Stevenson — the team’s biggest priority — are still $3 million apart in negotiations.

The Wizards’ offer has grown from three years, $9 million to four years, $15 million. An offer of four years, $18 million would “almost certainly” keep Stevenson with the team, according to a source with knowledge of the negotiations.

Yesterday was the first day teams could sign free agents, although they have been allowed to negotiate with players since July 1.

While the Wizards want Stevenson to return, the same cannot be said for them with Hayes.

The No. 10 pick out of Georgia in 2003, Hayes averaged 9.6 points a game his first season and 10.2 a game in his second.

But he played only 54 games that season because of a right knee injury that ended his season early.

The next season, Hayes suffered a fracture in the same knee and needed surgery. Originally penciled in as a starter alongside Gilbert Arenas, Hayes played only 21 games.

The Wizards had high hopes for Hayes last season, envisioning him as a key player off the bench. But Hayes never demonstrated the explosive scoring the Wizards expected and finished the season averaging a career-low 7.2 points.

With Arenas and Caron Butler sidelined in the playoffs, the Wizards’ front office viewed the postseason as Hayes’ last chance to show he had a future in Washington. But the Wizards were swept by eventual Eastern Conference champion Cleveland in the first round, and Hayes, who had to guard LeBron James, averaged just 10.8 points on 32.6 percent shooting.

In other news, the Wizards have talked with Calvin Booth’s agent, Mark Termini, who described the discussions as “good.” However, he did not commit to saying whether Booth, an unrestricted free agent, would re-sign with Washington, where he has spent the last two seasons.

The Wizards are believed to be targeting Booth, a steadying influence in the locker room, with the veteran’s biannual exception (slightly more than $1.8 million).

The Wizards have 10 players signed to contracts for next season at approximately $57 million, which already exceeds the newly released salary cap ($55.63 million) for 2007-08 and is nearing the luxury tax threshold ($67.87 million). If they exceed the tax threshold, the Wizards will have to pay $1 for every $1 over that threshold.

In an attempt to dump salary, the Wizards continue to shop center Etan Thomas, who has been on the market since last winter’s trade deadline. But trading Thomas could be tough. He has three years at close to $20 million left on his deal, and there is a trade kicker in his contract that boosts his salary by 10 to 15 percent.

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