Williams' asking price is going up


SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- If the establishment of true market value has been a major hang-up in negotiations between the Sacramento Kings and first-round draft choice Walt Williams, the news of an impending deal between the Charlotte Hornets and Alonzo Mourning may speed up things.

And the news indicates Kings new owner Jim Thomas may have to reach deeper into his pockets than he had planned.

Although the Kings originally offered Williams, the seventh pick in the NBA draft, about $6.5 million over four years, it's likely they felt comfortable with the idea of signing him for $8 million over that same span. But it may take a lot more than $2 million a year to sign the Maryland star.

Reports have indicated that Mourning, who was drafted behind Shaquille O'Neal in June, soon may sign a six-year contract for $21 million.

A contract that paid Mourning an average of $3.5 million a year would be second only to O'Neal's seven-year, $40 million pact, and would influence the market below.

Kings president Rick Benner said that he and Len Elmore, Williams' lawyer and another former Maryland star, spoke yesterday but did not make any headway toward a contract.

"We didn't get too far," he said. "We don't have any specific time planned to speak in the future. But it's going to get done."

Elmore has maintained that the market value of players in each draft is influenced by the contract signed by the No. 1 pick.

"We realize that Walt Williams is not Shaquille O'Neal and that Shaq is a unique entity," Elmore said. "But the history of the draft is that the contracts below still are affected on a percentage basis when there is an abnormality at the top of the draft.

"When Derrick Coleman, as a non-center, signed the highest contract ever for a rookie, the Kings paid Lionel Simmons at No. 7, 47 percent of that deal."

For the record, 47 percent of O'Neal's $5.7 million a year would be about $2.7 million a year.

Elmore appeared a bit miffed when he learned Kings executives had mentioned that Elmore client Harold Miner, the 12th pick in the draft, has yet to sign with Miami, even though Nos. 10 and 11 have.

"The Harold Miner situation is totally different than this one," Elmore said.

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