Sonics, Ridnour reach contract extension
SEATTLE -- Luke Ridnour chose the stability of a three-year contract extension with the Seattle Supersonics worth a guaranteed $19.5 million over the chance to determine his value on the open market.
Ridnour can earn another $5 million in incentives, his agent Lon Babby said Tuesday. The deal will keep him in Seattle through the 2009-10 season.
The Sonics, who made the announcement on Monday, had until Tuesday to sign Ridnour to an extension, otherwise the fourth-year point guard could have become a restricted free agent after this season.
"Both parties came to an agreement that was good for both of us and I wanted to be in Seattle," Ridnour said. "It really lets me get ready to play and be a part of this team for a while."
Ridnour averaged a career-high 11.5 points and 7.0 assists last season, his second as the Sonics' starting point guard. The deal came together quickly, with much of the productive dialogue coming in the last few days between Sonics general manger Rick Sund and Babby.
Sund was somewhat hampered in discussions because of the Sonics' sale to the Professional Basketball Club LLC, headed by Oklahoma City businessman Clay Bennett. The sale of the Sonics and WNBA Storm was approved by the NBA Board of Governors last week, but doesn't close until Tuesday. Bennett was in Seattle on Monday and spent the morning meeting with Sund to discuss pending contract situations.
Because the deal was reached before Tuesday, the previous owners -- the Basketball Club of Seattle -- also had to sign off on the deal.
"I had some dialogue with Clay and kept him apprised. ... He said 'Hey if you can get it done let's do it if we're comfortable with it,"' Sund said.
In three seasons, Ridnour is averaging 9.2 points and 5.2 assists. He is part of the U.S. national team, but was not selected to play in last summer's World Championships.
But Ridnour's future in Seattle was cloudy after he expressed frustration at the end of last season when coach Bob Hill used backup Earl Watson in the fourth quarter. Those complaints prompted speculation that Ridnour would bypass signing an extension and instead test the free-agent market next summer.
Ridnour was named the starter during training camp, but said neither that move or the chance to be courted by other teams played into his decision.
"I never thought about that stuff," said Ridnour, who was the 14th pick in the 2003 draft. "I was ready to play either way. They wanted to get a deal done and obviously I wanted to get a deal done."
Ridnour grew up in Blaine, Wash., near the Canadian border, and played his college ball at Oregon.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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