Thursday, November 2, 2006

Sonics, Collison agree

Seattle gives ex-Jayhawk extension


— An offseason's worth of moves are coming during the first hours of the Seattle SuperSonics' new ownership.

The Sonics announced late Tuesday that they have signed forward-center Nick Collison to a multiyear contract extension, after hinting such a deal may not get done until after this season.

Terms of the contract for the third-year veteran and key reserve were not immediately known. The News Tribune of Tacoma reported Wednesday that the extension is for five years and is believed to be worth about $33 million.

The announcement came a day after the Sonics reached an agreement with starting point guard Luke Ridnour on a three-year extension worth a guaranteed $19.5 million plus $5 million in incentives.

"I am personally very pleased we have been able to secure the talents of two promising young NBA players in the past 24 hours," new Sonics owner Clay Bennett said, adding he appreciated general manager Rick Sund completing the deals so quickly.

Earlier in the offseason, Seattle signed forward Chris Wilcox to a three-year, $24 million deal.

"We now have three young players signed, and we're excited about the next few years with the Sonics," Sund said.

The Sonics also have All-Star Ray Allen entering the second year of an $85 million, five-year contract.

The re-signings of Ridnour and Collison, who could have become free agents next summer, have come since Bennett arrived in Seattle to take over the team and begin approving contracts.

The $350 million sale to Bennett's Oklahoma City-based Professional Basketball Club, LLC, became official on Tuesday - just as the team was naming Sonics financial officer Danny Barth as the interim CEO, continuing its pursuit of a new arena in the Seattle area and courting the NHL to potentially bring a hockey team into that potential new facility.

Collison, who turned 26 last week, averaged 7.5 points per game last season but has added value now that expected starting center Robert Swift is out for this season with a knee injury.

The Sonics started unproven rookie Mouhamed Sene, their first-round draft choice, at center Wednesday in the season opener against the Portland Trail Blazers

Collison has shown he can play both forward or center in coach Bob Hill's system.

"I'm happy," Collison said. "We've got a good young core of players, and I'm happy to be a part of it.

"I really feel like I'm developing as a 'four' (forward) or 'five' (center) player. And I'm comfortable with coach Hill's style."

Last season, Collison averaged 5.6 rebounds per game in 66 games and led the team in rebounding 17 times.

"This is a good time for us," Hill said. "We've had a very productive offseason with the signing of Chris, Luke and Nick.

"The next few years are going to be good ones for us."


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