So maybe Deron Williams didn't enlist for the rest of his natural life. Almost nobody, in any field, commits to that anymore.

Williams is a Jazz player at least through the 2011-12 season. That's not forever, but it is, as the marriage counselors say, a mutually committed relationship.

Observed Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor: "There's a presidential election coming up. The next time we worry about Deron's contract is the next presidential election."

By then everyone will probably have bigger things to worry about ($12 a gallon gas) than Williams' contract, anyway.

"Four years," said O'Connor, "is a long time."

The Jazz point guard signed on the dotted line at a press conference Friday, making him the richest guy this side of team owner Larry H. Miller. His new contract guarantees him enough seed money to buy Moldova, with cash for pizza left over.

Last year Williams made $4 million. Under his new contract he will average $16.5 million-$17.5 million.

Thank goodness for merit raises.

"He's certainly gotten what he deserves," said O'Connor.

Friday's signing set the team's course for the foreseeable future. Securing Mehmet Okur, Carlos Boozer and Kyle Korver next year will certainly be important. But none of it would have mattered if Williams hadn't re-upped. Not only is he the straw that stirs the drink, he's the glass that holds it. Remove him and you're just pouring liquid on a table.

"It's gonna be fun. It's gonna be a blast," said Williams.

Would that be spending his money or earning it?

The signing of Williams was the Jazz's most significant contract extension since the days of John Stockton and Karl Malone. Back then, the Jazz stars often agreed to terms before ever signing their contracts. The parties worked things out in ensuing weeks.

Nowadays it's more businesslike. Williams appeared 10 minutes late for Friday's press conference because he and club officials were upstairs at Zions Bank Basketball Center, working out last-minute details.

Stockton and Malone made it clear for most of two decades they weren't leaving Utah. So did Williams, sort of. He said he loves the state, the team and the fans, which he termed the best in the game.

At the same time, there was the unspoken reality that today's players don't hang around merely because a place fits their style. Other things, too, must fit, such as teammates, coaching and did we mention dollars?

"I'm going to be a Jazzman for a while," said Williams.

Thus, he passed on signing a four- or five-year extension, instead taking a three-year deal with an option. That's not as long as some, but as O'Connor pointed out, he could have waited and tested the free agent market.

The new contract not only marks Williams' maturation as a player but as a person. This is a guy who, in his rookie season, gave a false name to police after an altercation at a Park City nightclub. Same guy who was named in a police investigation along with other Jazz players in Portland, but charges weren't pursued.

Since then, there hasn't been a hint of trouble. Williams has become more comfortable and less closed with the media. He has also grown into the undisputed court leader.

Williams says he decided to stay in Utah in part because it seemed in the interest of his family.

Sounds a little bit like a couple of other franchise Jazz players of days past.

Asked if he considered signing for longer, Williams pointed out that since it is a contract extension, he has a minimum of four remaining years with the Jazz, five if he picks up the option year.

"Look at our team roster four years ago," noted O'Connor. "Things change so much."

So the Jazz took what they could get, which in O'Connor's mind was a great deal. Williams could make more endorsement money and get more exposure if he were playing in a bigger market.

But for now, the terms are fine with everyone involved.

Four years from now it might even end up looking like a bargain.


E-mail: rock@desnews.com