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Sonics Sign Forward Vin Baker

August 19, 1999

SEATTLE (AP) _ The Seattle SuperSonics have managed to keep Vin Baker to go along with All-Star point guard Gary Payton.

``I don’t think Gary was going to allow me to go anywhere else,″ the 27-year-old Baker said Wednesday after signing a seven-year contract.

``Gary and I are very good friends,″ Baker added. ``We never even talked about me going to a different place. All our talks were about next year and how we’re going to be a better team.″

Baker, a four-time All-Star power forward coming off his worst season, terminated the remainder of his contract by opting for free agency as of July 1.

Terms of Baker’s new contract weren’t disclosed by Sonics president and general manager Wally Walker or Aaron Goodwin of Oakland, Calif., Baker’s agent. But it’s believed he signed for the maximum the Sonics could have offered him, $87 million.

He could have lost more than $20 million by signing with another team. The only clubs with enough room under the salary cap to sign him were Toronto, Chicago and the Los Angeles Clippers.

Baker would have received more than $2 million in the coming season under his old contract, which was scheduled to run through 2001.

``There was never a doubt,″ Goodwin said. ``It was just a matter of timing. We always knew we would get something done.″

In a season shortened by a lockout of the NBA players by the owners, the 6-foot-11 Baker reported to training camp about 20 pounds overweight, missed 16 games with thumb and knee injuries and averaged 13.8 points and 6.2 rebounds. His previous lows were 13.5 points and 7.8 rebounds in his rookie season with Milwaukee.

He has career averages of 18.1 points and 9.0 rebounds. In 1997-98, his first season in Seattle, he averaged 19.2 points and 8.0 rebounds and made the playoffs for the first time in his career.

Goodwin wouldn’t say if Baker’s new contract contained a weight clause.

``I wouldn’t want to say there’s a weight clause,″ he said. ``There were issues in the negotiations that Seattle had and issues that we addressed. The fact that Vin was heavier this year than the previous year was an issue. But Vin’s a player, a good player.″

Baker came to the Sonics on Sept. 25, 1997, in a three-way trade involving Milwaukee and Cleveland. Shawn Kemp left Seattle and wound up with the Cavaliers in the deal.

On Tuesday, the Sonics signed free agent center Greg Foster to a three-year, $5 million contract. He played last season for Utah.

After the Sonics went 25-25 last season, Walker dumped 10 players and added six, including Horace Grant, Vernon Maxwell, Ruben Patterson and Brent Barry.

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