Radmanovic takes chance on one-year deal

Updated: October 8, 2005, 2:55 AM ET
Associated Press

SEATTLE -- The guaranteed money sat on the table, a reported $42 million just waiting for Vladimir Radmanovic's signature.

Vladimir Radmanovic

It was security and stability, all rolled into a six-year deal that would keep the versatile forward in a Seattle SuperSonics uniform.

Instead, Radmanovic balked, taking his chance by signing a one-year contract Sept. 21 with Seattle as a restricted free agent, in the hope of getting a more lucrative multiyear deal as an unrestricted free agent next offseason.

"Really, I don't think about any more. I signed a one-year deal" Radmanovic said this week as he began his fifth season with Seattle. "I just have to play. That's about it. My game is going to show what needs to be shown."

The 6-foot-10, 234-pound Radmanovic has appeared to be on the verge of developing into a standout, averaging 10.2 points and 4.5 rebounds in his four seasons. But a combination of injuries and his role within the team have slowed his development.

Radmanovic's relationship with former coach Nate McMillan was sometimes strained. Radmanovic believed he should be a starter, playing a modified forward position in a high-paced, high-scoring offense. McMillan instead used him off the bench, giving him occasional spot starts. In 273 career games, Radmanovic has started only 70.

"He's very unique because of his size and quickness and his three-point shooting ability," new Seattle coach Bob Weiss said. "There just aren't many athletes like that out there."

Nagging injuries didn't help. Radmanovic has never completed a full season. In 2001-2002, his rookie year, he missed 18 games with a combination of a sprained toe, sprained ankle and a mild concussion.

The next season, he missed 10 games with sprains of both ankles, followed by five games in the 2003-2004 season, again with a sprained ankle.

Last season, Radmanovic finally appeared to shake the injury bug. He played in every game into March, before a stress fracture in his right fibula cost him the final 19 games.

Radmanovic returned in time for the playoffs, seeing limited action in Seattle's first-round victory over Sacramento. But just nine minutes into Game 1 of Seattle's conference semifinal series against San Antonio, Radmanovic severely sprained his right ankle and missed the rest of the series.

Seattle still tried to reach an agreement on a long-term deal in the offseason, despite Radmanovic's injury history.

"I don't see a reason to think about it. I have to think about the game, not a contract," Radmanovic said this week. "As I told you before, that's behind me and there's one more year in front of me."

Under Weiss, Radmanovic may find a style of play more to his liking. Weiss would like Seattle to play at a faster pace that last year, and knows that Radmanovic causes significant matchup problems for many teams. Radmanovic is a career 37 percent 3-point shooter, but also has the size to play on the inside.

The contract situation should not be a distraction. Last year, Ray Allen played without a contract extension, but signed a five-year deal worth up to $85 million after the season.

Allen pulled Radmanovic aside on the first day of training camp this week and offered some advice on how to handle the situation.

"I told him, it will probably be one of the toughest situations you'll be a part of. One day you'll think you're good enough, and one day you'll think you're not," Allen said. "But all you can do is just play hard and let the game take care of itself."

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press