The Washington Wizards reached an agreement in principle yesterday with guard Richard Hamilton for the second time this summer. Bill Strickland, Hamilton's new agent, and Wizards General Manager Wes Unseld seemed confident Hamilton would sign the three-year, $5.9 million deal early next week.

They declined to discuss how the contract differed from the one Hamilton agreed on in July, when he was represented by Al Irby, whom he later fired. That agreement was also for three years and $5.9 million, the maximum salary allowed by the NBA for the seventh overall pick in June's draft. Several other terms of rookie contracts are negotiable, including payment schedules.

"It's inappropriate for me to talk about how it differs" from the first agreement, Strickland said. Hamilton was not available to comment.

Under league rules, the Wizards can exercise an option to sign Hamilton for a fourth season and can sign him to a contract extension before his fifth season or have the right to match any offer when he becomes a free agent after that season.

Strickland and Unseld said Hamilton, who led Connecticut to last season's NCAA championship, has recovered from the sprained right ankle that sidelined him in July.