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Carter Is Staying, Olajuwon Coming

Pro basketball: Star player agrees to $94-million deal to remain a Raptor as team agrees to trade for Rocket great.

August 02, 2001|From Associated Press

TORONTO — On the day that Vince Carter decided there was no sense leaving now that Toronto has become an NBA title contender, the Raptors reinforced it Wednesday by agreeing to acquire center Hakeem Olajuwon in a sign-and-trade deal with the Houston Rockets.

Rocket owner Les Alexander told Houston television station KRIV the Rockets will get a first-round pick and a second-round pick from Toronto.

"Hakeem's decision is disappointing for the entire Rockets organization," Alexander said. "Hakeem Olajuwon has meant more to this franchise and this city than any other athlete in Houston history."

Olajuwon, 38, reportedly called off talks with the Rockets after rejecting the club's latest offer of $13 million guaranteed over three years. The Raptors had offered Olajuwon a four-year, $22.5-million deal.

Meanwhile, Carter, 24, agreed to a six-year contract extension worth a reported $94 million.

The announcement came on Vince Carter Day, as decreed by Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman.

"I'd hate to take the chance to move elsewhere, and it's not like here where I feel loved and supported," Carter said. "You never know if it's greener on the other side."

With one year left on his existing deal, the extension should keep Carter in the city he said feels like home until he is 31.

Before dealing with Carter, Raptor General Manager Glen Grunwald signed three key free agents--Antonio Davis, Jerome Williams and Alvin Williams--to long-term contracts, spending more than $140 million on the trio.

"That was big for me and for this organization because I believe if you want to build a dynasty . . . you have to keep a club there for more than one or two years if you're going to have a chance of winning a championship," Carter said.

"This is a start for us. We've built something special last year by making it to Game 7 in the second round."

Carter has been Toronto's most prolific player in its six-season history, averaging 24.6 points a game in his first three seasons with the club.

Wednesday was the first day of the three-month window under the NBA's collective bargaining agreement during which the Raptors could negotiate an extension with Carter. If he had not signed an extension by Oct. 31, Carter would have become a restricted free agent next summer.

"I just wanted to get it over with," Carter said. "A lot of fans wanted to know."

Toronto fans got more good news with the signing of Olajuwon, who played in 58 games for the Rockets last season, averaging 11.9 points and 7.4 rebounds and making 49.8% of his shots.

In his 17 seasons with the Rockets, Olajuwon averaged 22.5 points and 11.4 rebounds. He is the NBA all-time leader in blocked shots, a most valuable player and a 14-time all-star who led the Rockets to NBA titles in 1994 and 1995.

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Big Deals

Largest NBA contracts signed or agreed to since the end of the 2000-01 season:

*--*

Player Team Contract Chris Webber Sacramento 7 years, $123 mil. Michael Finley Dallas 7 years, $102 mil. Allan Houston New York 6 years, $100 mil. Vince Carter Toronto 6 years, $94 mil. Paul Pierce Boston 6 years, $84 mil. Dikembe Mutombo Philadelphia 4 years, $65 mil.

*--*

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