General manager Kevin O'Connor said it is the Jazz's No. 1 priority in the NBA's summer free-agency negotiating period, which opens locally at 10 p.m. Monday night
Point guard Deron Williams said it is something he wants to get done much sooner rather than later and certainly before he leaves later this summer to play with Team USA at the Summer Olympics in Beijing.
"It" is reaching agreement on a multiyear contract extension for the No. 3 overall selection in the 2005 NBA Draft, something both sides seem to agree is inevitable.
"I talked to Kevin about it the other day, and he definitely knows that it's a high priority to get it done as soon as possible, as soon as we can," said Williams, a second-team All-NBA selection after just his third season in the league. "So I'm just going to leave that in his hands and my agent's hands, and hope everything works out."
The Jazz hope the same.
"I know for Kevin it's a key agenda item that we're working on," team president Randy Rigby said, "and I'm strongly encouraging us to get that thing resolved I think for all of us."
Jazz owner Larry H. Miller already has publicly said he thinks Williams is worth a max-money extension, which based on Williams' experience and 25 percent of the projected team salary cap for the 2009-10 season translates to approximately $90 million in salary over the maximum-allowed five years, beginning with about $15 million in '09-10 and peaking at around $21.3 million in the 2013-14 season.
Length-of-extension would seem to be the only remaining issue three, four or the full five years.
An actual deal can be agreed to as early as late Monday night, but according to terms of the collective bargaining agreement between the NBA and its players union cannot be signed until July 9 at the earliest.
But it more than likely will take longer than that.
O'Connor suggested when the negotiating period opens, the Jazz simply will set up a time, date and place to meet with Williams and his representation.
From Williams' perspective, however, there may not be a lot to discuss.
"I don't know if there's going to be much negotiating," the Jazz point said Saturday in Las Vegas, where he was practicing with the Olympic team. "Hopefully we can get it done soon."
But for how long?
In 2006, LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat each spurned a five-year extension (then worth roughly $80 million) and instead signed a three-year extension, with a fourth-year option.
Fellow Team USA member Carmelo Anthony of the Denver Nuggets went a different route, signing a four-year extension with a fifth-year option.
The decisions by James and Wade will allow both to seek new deals in 2010. By then, both will have played seven years in the league allowing them to sign their next contract for six years and 30 percent of the cap, as opposed to just 25 percent.
Williams' choices, then, are these:
• Go, if offered, James-Wade (which for Williams would be worth almost $50 million, with a fourth-year option at about $19.725 million);
• Go, if offered, Anthony (for Williams, almost $70 million, with a fifth-year option at about $21.3 million);
• Take the full five years (beginning after the coming season, which already is set at $5.07 million) if for some reason the Jazz refused to offer a player option on the fifth year.
One other possibility for Williams, should negotiations hit an unexpected snag, is to forgo the extension now and seek a front-loaded proposal elsewhere in the open market next summer though in that instance the Jazz would retain the right to match any offer he might receive from another franchise.
If Williams has given the number-of-years issue excessive thought, he wasn't letting on early last week.
"No, not yet," he said when asked then if he knew what he preferred. "I'm still talking with my agent about it."
Asked again Saturday, Williams said, "I haven't decided yet."
The Jazz, meanwhile, would be all for tying up Williams as long as possible.
"That would be pretty good," O'Connor said when asked about signing him to a max-length deal. "I could sleep at night."
O'Connor, however, doesn't necessarily feel nearly as pressed as Williams to reach an agreement before the Summer Games in August.
"I'd like not to put a time frame on getting his contract done," O'Connor said last Monday. "We would like to be able to have him be able to mentally prepare for the Olympics without worrying about his contract, so we will have a discussion about that. But that doesn't mean that we will get it done. We've both had conversations, and we understand what he wants to do.
"He's expressed an interest in what he wants to get done and when he wants to get it done," the Jazz GM added Friday, "and we've expressed an interest in sitting down and being willing to talk to him about it."
It's possible that Miller's health perhaps could delay matters, as the Jazz owner has been hospitalized with undisclosed complications related to his type-2 diabetes and Miller surely would want direct input into a matter of such financial magnitude.
Rigby, however, indicated that should not be a concern.
"We've had good meetings with Larry before this health situation even came up," he said of Jazz management, "and we were all of a pretty solid mind of direction and approach that we want to take to this thing, so we're moving forward with it.
"That doesn't change."
That should be fine by Williams, who just wants to put pen to paper when terms are reached.
Contributing: Scott Taylor in Las Vegas
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