Derrick Coleman apologized Sunday and so did Willis Reed and other New Jersey Nets' executives. The welcome party for the NBA's No. 1 draft pick was anything but a party with less than a week to go before the Nets' season opener.
"I never thought it would take this long, but I'm glad it's over," Coleman said after signing a five-year deal that will reportedly pay him at least $15 million and make him the highest-paid rookie in NBA history.
The NCAA's all-time leading rebounder missed training camp and said he won't be at full speed for two to three weeks. That might be a little late for the Nets.
"Sure, we're a little disappointed," said Bob Casciola, the Nets' chief operating officer. "We wanted very badly to get this done sooner. But it just didn't work out."
It didn't work out because the Nets and Coleman's agent, Harold MacDonald, were far apart from the start of negotiations.
"When this thing began there was a large difference between us," Net owner Alan Aufzien said. "But the final contract is a good compromise for everyone."
Coleman, the 6-foot-10 forward who set all the scoring and rebounding records at Syracuse, reportedly will receive about $2.5 million this season. He also will get a $1-million signing bonus and his contract is laced with incentives.
The first four years of the contact are reportedly guaranteed.