Wolves, Jefferson agree to extension

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 1, 2007 - 12:04 AM

The 6-10 forward/center signed for five years and $65 million. The team also exercised options on guards Randy Foye and Rashad McCants.

The Timberwolves beat a late-night deadline Wednesday and signed promising Al Jefferson to a five-year, $65 million contract extension that keeps the centerpiece of last summer's Kevin Garnett trade with the franchise through 2013.

The Wolves had until 11 p.m. Wednesday to sign Jefferson, a 6-10 forward/center selected 15th overall by Boston in the 2004 NBA draft, to an extension and reached an agreement with Jefferson's agent, Jeff Schwartz, just before the deadline.

"We're thrilled to have Al be a cornerstone for the Timberwolves for years to come," Wolves vice president of basketball operations Kevin McHale said in a statement. "Al is only going to continue to get better."

Earlier Wednesday, the Wolves exercised the contract options for next season on young guards Randy Foye and Rashad McCants while passing on the chance to extend the contract of guard/forward Gerald Green, who was acquired from Boston in July in the five-player, two-draft-pick deal for Garnett.

McHale said Jefferson's physical style of play near the basket and the promise of a 22-year-old who went directly from high school to the NBA four years ago convinced him to pass on other trade offers for Garnett and strike the deal with the Celtics in July.

Jefferson's play in the preseason -- he averaged 17.9 points, 13.4 rebounds and 31 minutes in eight games -- might have convinced the Timberwolves to sign him now rather than later.

He would have become a restricted free agent next July, when the Wolves would have retained the rights to match any other team's offer.

"Al's better than I thought he was," McHale said, "and I thought he was pretty good."

Jefferson will make $2.48 million this season. The contract extension will begin with the 2008-2009 season.

On Monday, Jefferson called a $60 million-plus contract extension "something I don't really worry about" because the first year of the big money won't come until next season either way.

"If you get it done or it don't get done, I'm still going to go out and be a beast," he said. "It's not something I go home and think about every day."

Newly acquired Timberwolf Antoine Walker, a three-time NBA All-Star, played with Jefferson in Boston in 2005 and said Tuesday that he'd consider a substantial extension for Jefferson a wise investment.

"He's as polished on the low block as I've ever seen in a 22-year-old," Walker said. "He's going to continue to get better. He's definitely going to be an All-Star in this league."

Foye -- the team's projected starting point guard who is expected to miss at least the season's first three weeks because of a stress reaction on his left kneecap -- will earn $2.81 million next season, his third year in the NBA.

Green will become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

McHale called Foye, who was named to the NBA's All-Rookie team last season, and McCants, who underwent microfracture knee surgery in June 2006, "a big part of our future" in a statement.

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