Wizards Opt Not to Match Knicks' Offer for Jeffries

Washington Wizards' Jared Jeffries makes a pass
Jared Jeffries, selected by Washington with the 11th overall pick in the 2002 draft, has averaged 6.1 points and 4.9 rebounds in four seasons with the Wizards. (Jeff Roberson - AP)
By Ivan Carter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 8, 2006

The Wizards elected not to match the five-year, $30 million offer sheet restricted free agent guard-forward Jared Jeffries received from the New York Knicks last week.

Wizards President of Basketball Operations Ernie Grunfeld made the announcement yesterday, citing the recent additions of free agents DeShawn Stevenson and Darius Songaila, as well as Jeffries's reluctance to return to Washington as reasons why the team parted ways with the 2002 first-round pick.

Jeffries averaged 6.1 points and 4.8 rebounds in 256 career games with the team. Last season, he started 77 games and carved out a role as perhaps the team's best defender while helping the Wizards reach the playoffs. However, Jeffries turned down a six-year, $33 million offer from the team earlier this summer.

After Jeffries signed the offer sheet with the Knicks last Monday, his agent, Andy Miller, said Jeffries did not want the Wizards to match. Jeffries has a good relationship with Knicks president of basketball operations-coach Isiah Thomas, who sought a defensive-minded player for a team that allowed 102 points per game last season.

"Jared's representative made it crystal clear that he preferred being in New York and that he wanted a bigger role in some of the things he wanted to do," Grunfeld said. "We feel that we have plenty of players on this team to pick up the slack. We want players who want to be here and are excited about the situation here."

The Wizards signed Stevenson to a two-year contract over the weekend that will pay him $932,015 this season. Stevenson, 25, averaged 11 points and 2.9 rebounds while shooting a career-best 46 percent in 82 starts with the Orlando Magic last season.

When the Wizards open training camp, Stevenson likely will compete with Jarvis Hayes to fill the starting slot Jeffries occupied last season.

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