Bill Strickland, the new agent for first-round draft pick Richard Hamilton, has resumed negotiations with the Washington Wizards and said yesterday, "I continue not to anticipate any problems getting this thing done."
A contract could be signed next week, sources said.
"I would agree with that" assessment, General Manager Wes Unseld said after meeting with Strickland on Tuesday and talking to him again yesterday. Both Strickland and Unseld refused to discuss further details of the negotiations.
Hamilton fired Al Irby after the agent had worked out a three-year, $5.9 million contract for his client -- the maximum allowed under the NBA wage scale for the seventh overall pick in the draft.
Also yesterday, the Wizards agreed in principle to a one-year deal with 6-foot-11 forward Randell Jackson, who played in 27 games for Washington as a rookie last season, sources familiar with the negotiations said. The contract, worth at least $535,000, could be signed as early as Friday, a source said.
But free agent Grant Long, the player Coach Gar Heard would like to add as his starting power forward, needs more time to choose his new team, according to his agent, Charles Tucker. A team source said yesterday that the Wizards will not wait indefinitely for Long's decision.
An 11-year veteran, Long, 33, has started 588 games and is known for his defense, rebounding and locker-room leadership skills. The Wizards, who are over the NBA salary cap, would use the league's $2 million free agent exception to sign Long. Both the Los Angeles Lakers and Vancouver Grizzlies have offered to use their $2 million exceptions for Long.
The Wizards also are looking at five other free agent power forwards: Dickey Simpkins, Corie Blount, Chucky Brown, Tyrone Corbin and Ben Davis, a newcomer to the list. Davis has spent the last two seasons on the New York Knicks' injured list.
"In the position we're in, we have to take whoever is available," Heard said. "We can't wait to the last minute. [Long's] a great fit for us, because with the group we have here, we need a veteran power forward who has started before. He does the dirty things. He'll do what it takes to win and be a force in the locker room."