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Stars Take Less for More Later

July 13, 2006|Robyn Norwood | From Times Staff and Wire Reports

LeBron James and Dwyane Wade said they expect to be with Cleveland and Miami for a long time.

For now, though, all the superstars would commit to was four more years.

Rather than choose the five-year extensions they were eligible for that would kick in starting with the 2007-08 season, James and Wade went for three years with an option for a fourth, and the chance to become free agents sooner and potentially make even more money.

"It was a great business decision by me," Wade said. "As a young player, going for the three-year with a fourth year is the better option."

The five-year deals would have been worth around $80 million, but James and Wade settled for some $20 million less. However, when they become unrestricted free agents in the summer of 2010 as seven-year veterans, they can earn maximum contracts worth 30% of the salary cap under rules of the collective bargaining agreement. Players with fewer than seven years of experience can earn only 25% of the cap.

"We did extensive research and with the way the CBA is set up, it makes the most business sense to sign this extension and then look at another new contract in four years," James said on the Cavaliers' website.

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Lakers forward Lamar Odom will not participate in the USA Basketball senior national team's summer training program or the 2006 FIBA World Championship in Japan after the death of his infant son last month, USA Basketball spokesman Craig Miller said.

Odom, one of 24 current or recently drafted NBA players on the team after the addition Wednesday of Chicago Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich, will remain a member of the program from which the 2008 Olympic team will be chosen.

Odom's 6 1/2 -month-old son, Jayden, died June 29 in New York after apparently suffocating while sleeping in his crib.

-- Robyn Norwood

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Carmelo Anthony signed a five-year deal worth an estimated $80 million with the Denver Nuggets.

There is a clause in the contract under which he can terminate the deal after the fourth year.

"This is where I want to be," Anthony said. "The whole state has embraced me."

As the Nuggets solidified the future of their star forward, they lost swingman Greg Buckner to the Dallas Mavericks.

Also, 7-foot center Francisco Elson signed an offer sheet with the San Antonio Spurs, which Denver still has a chance to match.

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The Houston Rockets finalized a trade that brought forward Shane Battier from Memphis for Stromile Swift and Rudy Gay.

The Rockets made Gay the eighth pick in last month's draft, but the trade was already in the works. Neither team was allowed to announce the deal until Wednesday, the day after the league determined its salary cap for next season.

The Rockets were 34-48 last season and did not reach the playoffs for the fifth time in seven years. The Grizzlies have reached the playoffs the last three years, though they still haven't won a game.

Gay, a 6-foot-9, 220-pound forward from Connecticut, signed after the trade was completed, getting a two-year deal with team options for a third and fourth year.

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The Mavericks got Austin Croshere from the Indiana Pacers for Marquis Daniels in a previously agreed-to trade.

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The New Orleans Hornets acquired Peja Stojakovic and cash from Indiana in exchange for the draft rights to Andrew Betts, to boost their outside shooting.

Speedy Claxton, the runner-up for the NBA's sixth-man award last season, left the Hornets for a four-year deal worth about $25.5 million with the Atlanta Hawks.

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