By Ivan Carter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
The agreement between the Washington Wizards and shooting guard DeShawn Stevenson on a four-year, $15 million contract required compromise from both parties.
Stevenson, who made just less than $1 million with the Wizards last season after turning down a three-year, $10.5 million offer from the Orlando Magic, hoped to land a larger contract but took Washington's final offer because it was the best on the table and because he enjoyed playing with Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison and the rest of the team.
Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld could have offered less, but wanted to ensure that last season's core would be kept together and felt Stevenson earned the contract with his performance and team-first attitude.
"I'm just happy to be back," said Stevenson, who started all 82 regular season games and averaged 11.2 points on 46.1 percent shooting, a career best. "It's a good fit for me here and I know they feel the same way so it's good that we got something done."
The person most relieved by the signing may be Coach Eddie Jordan, who won't have to integrate a new shooting guard into his system after doing so each of the last two seasons. Larry Hughes departed as a free agent for the Cleveland Cavaliers following the 2004-05 season and Jared Jeffries signed with the New York Knicks last summer, a move that prompted the acquisition of Stevenson.
"It's a great relief," Jordan said yesterday. "We're a step ahead of the game as opposed to the last two or three years. The starting five knows the offense. DeShawn is a good complement to Gil and that's a good thing for us -- having someone who can play with Gil in the back court."
With Stevenson signed, the Wizards have 10 players under contract. The team is in the process of signing rookie second-round pick Dominic McGuire and plans on retaining restricted free agent Andray Blatche.
Wizards Notes: Grunfeld said he is not concerned over forward Darius Songaila's decision to play with the Lithuanian national team this summer, even though Songaila injured his back playing for his home country in last summer's world championships.
Following the tournament, Songaila underwent surgery to repair a herniated disk and missed the first 45 games of the season. He returned in February and played in 37 games, averaging 7.6 points and 3.6 rebounds in 18.9 minutes.
"I think everybody would love to represent their country and he enjoys doing that," Grunfeld said. "He didn't play as many minutes as he would have liked last season, so it's a good opportunity to get some game time under his belt."