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Carter stays in Jersey; Sonics leaders trying to ink top free agent



Published: Mon, July 2, 2007 @ 12:00 a.m.

Rashard Lewis’ services will be highly sought after by several NBA teams.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

TRENTON, N.J. — Vince Carter and the New Jersey Nets have the framework in place for a four-year contract that guarantees the All-Star more than $60 million, according to a person with knowledge of the deal.

Word of the deal came Sunday, though the person spoke on condition of anonymity because under league rules the agreement can not be announced until July 11, the first day free agents can sign.

A day earlier the Nets announced Carter had opted out of the final year of a contract that would’ve paid him $16.3 million next season. Team officials, though, had said they were optimistic the 30-year-old swingman, who will be entering his 10th season, would return to New Jersey.

Since the playoffs ended, Carter has been practicing at the team’s facility in East Rutherford, and he also had invited teammate Nenad Krstic to visit his Orlando, Fla., home this week to practice together. And Bruce Ratner, the team’s owner, has been a strong supporter of Carter and has said he wanted him resigned.

The Star-Ledger of Newark reported on its Web site Sunday that the deal guarantees Carter $61.8 million over four seasons, with the team holding an option for a fifth year.

Carter averaged team-highs of 25.2 points in the regular season and 22.3 for the postseason. However, he shot less than 40 percent from the field during the playoffs and made several big mistakes.

Sonics

SEATTLE — Rashard Lewis found out very quickly Sunday just how coveted he is in the NBA free agency marketplace.

Lewis’ agent, Tony Dutt, said 20 teams contacted him in some form by late Sunday morning regarding the 6-foot-10 forward, who opted out of the final two years of his contract with the Seattle SuperSonics to become a free agent.

But it was the Sonics — the only team Lewis has played for — that got the first chance to meet with Lewis. New general manger Sam Presti led a Seattle contingent that had discussions with Lewis and Dutt early Sunday in Houston.

Presti and his staff presented their plan for the future of the franchise — an issue brought into question since Thursday’s draft when Seattle traded All-Star Ray Allen to Boston, and drafted forwards Kevin Durant and Jeff Green, who appear to play the same position as Lewis.

“We went over all of that,” Dutt said. “All I will say is they laid it out very professionally. It was very productive and important for us to sit down with them first.”

Dutt said the two sides didn’t get into numbers, although Lewis is expected to command a salary in the range of $15 million per season. Seattle has the added advantage of being able to sign Lewis to a six-year contract under the NBA collective bargaining agreement, while other teams can only offer him a five-year deal.


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