Eric Leckner and the Utah Jazz agreed to a contract Thursday night, in time for the Wyoming center to play in this weekend's rookie-free agent camp at Westminster College.
"We have an agreement in principle," said Jazz counsel Phil Marantz, who negotiated the contract with Boston-based attorney Bob Woolf. Randy Vataha, a Woolf associate, was dispatched to Salt Lake City to approve the contract and have Leckner sign today. Leckner's first camp appearance is expected tonight."Everything's worked out better than I'd hoped," Leckner said.
The contract is thought to be a three-year deal for slightly more than $1 million. Leckner was the Jazz's first-round draft choice, taken 17th overall, and previous signings resulted in these unofficial boundaries for his contract: the five-year, $2.5 million deal for center Will Perdue with Chicago as the 11th choice and the three-year, $1 million package with Sacramento for guard Ricky Berry, a Woolf client drafted 18th.
"It was give and take, but it moved along," said Marantz. "I think both sides got something and gave something."
Leckner was determined to play in the rookie camp, driving his modest pickup truck to Salt Lake last weekend from Laramie, Wyo. He worked out this week under the supervision of Jazz assistant coaches Jerry Sloan and Scott Layden and called to ask veteran guard Bobby Hansen to join him in weightlifting sessions.
"I just want to be as ready as possible to do as well as I can in camp," the 6-foot-11 Leckner said. "I'm no superstar player, I just want to become a better player. It's been hard this week, but I've learned a lot."
Leckner immediately becomes the Jazz's backup center, behind Mark Eaton. Forward-center Mike Brown, obtained from Chicago via Charlotte in the expansion draft and subsequent trade for Kelly Tripucka, is in town for the camp this weekend and is another definite factor. Mel Turpin is also still on the roster.
After the camp, Leckner will be among the players on the Jazz entry in the Utah Pro-Am Summer League next week at East High.