Webber, Bullets agree to contract Deal believed to be in $60 million range

October 09, 1995|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,SUN STAFF

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W. Va. -- It took until after training camp started, but restricted free agent Chris Webber finally has agreed to a contract with the Washington Bullets.

Terms of the contract were not disclosed by the Bullets, but the deal is believed to be worth $60 million over 10 years.

It was a good day for the Bullets, who also got a signed contract from restricted free agent Don MacLean, bringing most of the team's key components together. MacLean worked out with the team last night after turning in the one-year, $925,000 contract.

"Obviously, it'll be terrific to have Don and Chris here," said a smiling Bullets coach Jim Lynam after yesterday's morning practice.

Webber will be in camp this evening after attending a news conference at the USAir Arena this afternoon. He will arrive in time for tonight's scrimmage at Shepherd College.

"This is what we set out to be our No. 1 goal," Bullets general manager John Nash said of the Webber signing.

It was a goal accomplished without any of the bitterness that came between Webber and the Golden State Warriors last summer. Then, with Webber deciding to exercise the one-year option in his contract, the Warriors were forced to trade him to the Bullets in exchange for Tom Gugliotta and three first-round draft picks.

With the Bullets giving up so much, Webber was in great bargaining position. The 6-foot-10 power forward was a big reason Washington sold out a franchise-record 30 games last season, and the Bullets were eager to sign him to a long-term deal.

Webber's agents were eager to have their client paid among the top power forwards in the league. The New Jersey Nets' Derrick Coleman has a $7.5 million-per-year contract over four years and the Milwaukee Bucks' Glen Robinson has a 10-year, $68 million contract. Webber, the 1993-94 Rookie of the Year, made $2.08 million last season.

"Chris, for two years, played under his value," said Bill Strickland, who, along with Fallasha Erwin, represents Webber.

Asked if Webber is now the highest-paid player in the NBA, Strickland said, "Any way you slice it, he's among the top."

His appearance at camp is being welcomed by his teammates.

"It's great, because he's one of the biggest pieces of this puzzle," Juwan Howard said. "I spoke to him Friday evening, and he's positive. He's looking forward to camp. He's really excited about the upcoming season."

MacLean has been here since the start of training camp Thursday, but when two-a-day practices began Friday, he was a spectator, waiting for a contract offer from the Boston Celtics.

To do that, the Celtics needed to make some room under the salary cap and were looking to deal Sherman Douglas. With the Celtics apparently unable to make a deal, MacLean ran out of patience and submitted his contract to the Bullets.

"To miss all of training camp for something that is not guaranteed, it's not something that I want to do," MacLean said. "Who knows whether they were going to trade Sherman or not? If they didn't and I sat out, it would set me back a couple of steps in what's going to be an important year for me.

"I'm ready to go out and compete. If I had my choice, I would rather be on this team anyway."

Though all the key parts of the team will be in camp tonight, all may not be participating. Newly acquired point guard Mark Price missed his second straight day of practice yesterday while recovering from a sore plantar fascia of his left heel. He said he did not know whether he would play in tonight's scrimmage.

NOTE: Tonight's scrimmage at the Butcher Center at Shepherd College starts at 7, and is free to the public.

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