Bird, Storm discussing extension
SEATTLE -- Sue Bird saw up close last winter the lobbying and recruiting Lauren Jackson faced as a free agent before Jackson ultimately decided to re-sign with the Seattle Storm.
Bird doesn't sound all that interested in seeing other teams pining over her.
"This is the place where I started my career. Hopefully it's the place where I'll end it," she said Monday. "We'll see."
For the first time in years, Bird is in town for the start of Storm training camp, not delayed by obligations in Europe or with the U.S. national team.
One of the most recognizable faces of the franchise -- celebrating its 10th anniversary this season -- Bird has spent all seven of her seasons in Seattle.
She will be an unrestricted free agent following the 2009 season. She could play out the upcoming season, when Seattle is again expected to be among the class of the WNBA, and then spend next winter having teams compete over her.
But Bird's actions are putting that idea to rest early. Even as training camp is beginning, Bird and the Storm are already talking about an extension that could potentially keep her in Seattle for her entire career.
"I think Sue, not unlike Lauren, has always felt really comfortable here, whether it's the coaches she's played for, the organization's support for her, or the connection with the fans or all of the above," Storm CEO Karen Bryant said.
"Why risk whether you can find that somewhere else when you are happy where you are?"
Last year, the five-time All-Star averaged 14.1 points -- the most since her rookie season of 2002 -- and 5.1 assists as she was asked to be more of a scorer with Jackson missing games before the Olympics, then getting injured in Beijing and missing the rest of the season.
Bird spent the WNBA offseason playing in Russia along with Jackson and Phoenix Mercury star Diana Taurasi for Moscow's Spartak Vidnoe. Bird says she didn't do any lobbying on behalf of the Storm to persuade Jackson to remain in Seattle and said the biggest tip of watching Jackson's process play out was "don't read the Internet."
"Lauren and I are totally different. She had her reasons for wanting to see what was out there for her. I'm not so sure I feel the same way," Bird said. "But it's still early."
Along with trying to secure Bird's future, the team is also hoping to lock up Jackson and head coach Brian Agler. Jackson agreed to a one-year deal, but with the thought that a long-term contract would be discussed later. Jackson is expected in Seattle about a week before the season opener on June 6 at Sacramento.
Agler led Seattle to a 22-12 regular season mark in his first year in Seattle, before the Storm were bounced from the first round of the playoffs.
"We feel really good with what Brian has accomplished here in both roles as head coach and director of player personnel," Bryant said. "He's put together a great roster and did a masterful job in signing Lauren and bringing her back."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press