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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.