Contract negotiations between former University of Maryland star Walt Williams and the Sacramento Kings remain at an impasse, but indications yesterday were that the two sides are getting closer to reaching an agreement.
Williams, the No. 1 pick of the Kings and the seventh player chosen overall in last June's NBA draft, rejected a seven-year, $14.7 million offer a little more than a week ago. The two sides met again Thursday in Washington, and both offered to see what concessions can be made.
Len Elmore, Williams' attorney, said yesterday that the two-hour meeting "was cordial but nothing substantive came out of it." Elmore said that he and Williams have come down from their initial demands of $2.5 million for five or six years to about $2.3 million a year, but that Williams would like to be able to get out of the contract after three or four years.
"Sacramento knows where Walt stands," said Elmore.
Neither Williams nor Kings president Rick Benner could be reached for comment. But Jerry Reynolds, Sacramento's general manager, said last night that Benner and team owner Jim Thomas will go back and see how they might be accommodate their No. 1 draft pick.
Reynolds said that neither the team's management nor its fans took kindly to Elmore's characterization of the initial offer as "a spit in Walt's face." Reynolds also said that the offer was a little higher than the reported $14.7 million.
"I don't think we've ever intended to insult Walt," said Reynolds. "We felt it was a great offer."
Elmore has contended that the five-year, $13 million contract the Denver Nuggets gave LaPhonso Ellis should be used as a gauge by Williams judges his worth, more so than the eight-year, 20.8 million contract signed earlier this week by the Washington Bullets' No. 1 pick, Tom Gugliotta. Ellis and Gugliotta were the fifth and sixth picks in the draft.
"If they don't have the money, they don't have to guarantee us $15 million," said Elmore. "They can give us a shorter term for a less overall payout. That means raising his base salary about $250,000 a year. But they said that it's going to take too much time. It could have been done a month ago."
Said Reynolds, "We're trying to move in Len's direction."