The Washington Wizards' Etan Thomas has tentatively agreed to an offer from the Milwaukee Bucks that would pay the bruising forward between $35 million and $40 million over six years, according to sources close to the negotiations.
Thomas, whose shot blocking, rebounding and overall physical play near the basket last season made him a fan favorite, is a restricted free agent and has seen his market value skyrocket in a year where quality big men are scarce.
Under league rules, the Wizards are allowed to match or exceed any offer Thomas gets, including a seven-year contract with 12.5 percent annual increases in pay. But the Bucks' offerwill make it difficult for the Wizards to match and maintain a viable team salary structure.
Wizards' management must decide whether Thomas, who finished last season with career highs in minutes (24.1), points (8.9), rebounds (6.7) and blocks (1.5), is worth the money.
Ernie Grunfeld, the Wizards' president of basketball operations, has repeatedly said that the Wizards intend to keep the 26-year-old Thomas, who started only 15 games. In a phone interview this morning, Grunfeld said that the Wizards intend to review the offer once Thomas submits it.
"We like Etan very much but we have to take a look at what he's been offered," Grunfeld said
Some scouts believe Thomas is the best power forward available in free agency and replacing him with someone of the same caliber could prove difficult for Washington.
Acquiring forward Antawn Jamison from Golden State last month bolstered the team's inside game but losing Thomas would force the Wizards to rely more on young players such as Brendan Haywood, Jared Jeffries and Jarvis Hayes.