Jefferson gets $78M extension from Nets
"Richard's work ethic over the past three years has produced a significant development in his basketball performance," Nets president Rod Thorn said. "The Nets management feels very strongly that Richard will continue this upward spiral and be a cornerstone of this franchise."
Jefferson would have become a restricted free agent after next season.
The announcement comes just weeks after New Jersey was forced to sign and trade Martin to Denver rather than match a proposed seven-year, $90 million contract. The Nets would have had to pay Martin $23 million in salary and front-loaded bonuses had they matched a planned Nuggets offer sheet.
The Nets were further dismantled when Kittles was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers for a second-round draft choice.
Jefferson, entering his fourth NBA season, averaged a team-high 18.5 points and 38.2 minutes a game last season. He also averaged 5.7 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.12 steals a game, appearing in a career-high 82 games.
The runner-up for NBA rookie of the year in 2001-02, the 6-foot-7 Jefferson was acquired by the Nets in June 2001 from the Houston Rockets.
Jefferson is currently playing for the U.S. Olympic team.
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press
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