Forward Derrick Coleman became the highest-paid rookie in NBA history Sunday by signing a five-year contract for $15-million that makes him the highest-paid player on the New Jersey Nets. The signing came less than a week before the Nets' season-opener on Friday, and Coleman's late arrival has been a sore point with coach Bill Fitch.
Coleman, the all-time leading scorer and rebounder at Syracuse and all-time leading rebounder in NCAA history, missed the entire preseason.
The 6-foot-10 Coleman reportedly will receive about $2.5-million this season. He also will get a $1-million signing bonus and his contract is laced with incentives for making the all-rookie team, being named rookie of the year, and being ranked in the top five in scoring and rebounding.
The first four years of the contact are reportedly guaranteed. The Nets have the option to pick up the fifth year.
"I never thought it would take this long, but I'm glad it's over," said Coleman, who worked out on his own during negotiations. Coleman said he would need about two to three weeks to get into top shape for the season.
He also knows he has to make an impression on Fitch.
"I hear he is a real tough coach who expects a lot from people," Coleman said. "But I expect a lot from myself."
76ers cut Derek Smith, get Jayson Williams from Suns
PHILADELPHIA _ The Philadelphia 76ers dropped veteran guard Derek Smith and acquired rookie Jayson Williams from the Phoenix Suns in exchange for a 1993 first-round draft pick.
Williams, a 6-foot-10 forward from St. John's, was the Suns' 21st selection in the June draft. The trade is contingent on Williams passing a physical and signing a contract, which the Sixers expect to happen today.