First-round draft pick Richard Hamilton is expected to agree to a three-year, $4.92 million contract with the Washington Wizards today, according to his agent, Al Irby. Hamilton, the seventh overall selection in last month's NBA draft, will earn the maximum amount allowed for a player picked in his slot.
Irby said he was going to inform Hamilton of the Wizards' new proposal last night. There was no reason to think the 6-foot-6 shooting guard from the University of Connecticut would object to the contract, Irby said.
Hamilton is competing with the United States national team at the Tournament of the Americas, an Olympic qualifying tournament, in Puerto Rico. Hamilton has not played because of a sprained ankle, but might play tonight.
Under the terms of the NBA's collective bargaining agreement, Washington can exercise an option to retain Hamilton for a fourth season. Should Hamilton spend that fourth season with the Wizards, Washington can match any offers he gets from other teams as a free agent or re-sign him to a new contract.
Irby said the Wizards offered Hamilton 80 percent of the maximum allowed salary last Thursday, but increased their offer yesterday. The fact that negotiations between the Wizards and free agent guard Mitch Richmond have stalled might have spurred Washington to get Hamilton under contract, Irby said.
"If you would have asked me [Monday], I would have told you there wasn't much happening," Irby said. "Today I got a call from [General Manager] Wes Unseld and the Wizards did what they had to do."
If Richmond does not return to the team, Hamilton likely would start at shooting guard. If Richmond does come back, Hamilton is penciled in as his backup.
Hamilton is expected to join the Wizards during a week-long summer league in Boston beginning July 26. Center Calvin Booth, the team's second-round pick, second-year forward Randell Jackson, center John Coker and second-year center Jahidi White also will be on the summer league team.
The Wizards also invited several free agents with NBA experience to play on the team: guard James Collins (L.A. Clippers), forward Joe Stephens (Houston Rockets) and center Kevin Thompson (Portland Trail Blazers). The 16-man roster also will include former St. John's center-forward Zendon Hamilton, 7-6 center Andy Van Volkenberg and former Virginia forward Norman Nolan.
Oft-injured forward Lorenzo Williams, who missed all of last season with stress fractures in both feet, will practice with Washington this weekend but he is not expected to travel with the team to Boston.
CAPTION: Richard Hamilton, left, is with the U.S. national team at the Olympic qualifying tournament but has yet to play because of a sprained ankle.