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Thirty percent of contract deferred

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Forward Zach Randolph, named the NBA's
most improved player last season, has agreed to a six-year, $84 million contract extension with the Portland Trail Blazers.

Randolph originally was seeking a six-year, $86 million extension, the maximum allowed under the league's collective bargaining agreement. He can make an additional $2 million if he is
named to the All-Star team each year over the duration of the contract, putting him at $86 million, according to his agent, Raymond Brothers.

"I feel like I'm one of the best players in my class, and I feel like I deserved it," Randolph said Monday.

Paying Randolph the $84 million was a big concession for the Blazers, who on Oct. 29 were offering $72 million. However, the Blazers are deferring 30 percent of his contract ($25 million), which will be paid out over six years beginning in 2012, ESPN Insider Chad Ford reports.

Pau Gasol and Andrei Kirilenko also had deferred money in their max contracts this fall -- but that was for $6 million each, not $25 million.

So far, Gasol (6 years, $86 million), Kirilenko (6 years, $86 million), Jamaal Tinsley (6 years, $40 million), Shane Battier (6 years, $37 million), Jason Collins (4 years, $24 million) and Primoz Brezec (3 years, $8.5 million) have received new deals.

Randolph, 23, averaged 20.1 points and 10.5 rebounds last
season, and was one of only five players in the league to average
more than 20 points and 10 rebounds a game.

The 6-foot-9 forward tallied 43 double-doubles, tying him for
fifth in the league. He had 20 or more points in 42 games, and 30
or more points in three games.

But despite his efforts, Portland finished 41-41 and in 10th place in the
Western Conference, two spots out of the playoffs.

"We know him well as a player, we know him as a person,"
general manager John Nash said in announcing Randolph's extension.
"We're committed to him and he's committed to us, in terms of being a leader, as well as a very, very productive player."

Nash said getting the deal done gives the Blazers a front line
that is "intact for the immediate future." In the offseason, the
Blazers signed restricted free agent forward Darius Miles to a
six-year, $48 million deal. Center Theo Ratliff also agreed to a
contract extension.

The Blazers open their season Wednesday night at Golden State.
The home opener is Friday when Portland hosts the Los Angeles Clippers.

Even with the extension, Randolph said his goals remain unchanged.

"Making other people better around me. Winning games. Trying to
win a championship," he said. "I've got a lot of improvement
left. I'm only 23 years old; I think I can keep learning forever until I'm done playing."

Randolph, the 19th overall pick in the 2001 draft out of
Michigan State, first emerged two seasons ago when Rasheed Wallace
was serving a seven-game suspension for threatening an official on
the loading dock at the Rose Garden after a game. Randolph started,
and the Blazers went 5-2.

Then in the Blazers' first-round playoff series that season
against the Dallas Mavericks, Randolph averaged 13.9 points and 8.7 rebounds.

He finished that season with an average of 8.4 points, 4.5
rebounds and 0.5 assists.

Randolph, known in Portland as Z-Bo, was the second Blazer to be
selected as the league's most improved player. Kevin Duckworth
received the award in 1987-88.

"I've seen his growth, I've seen the maturity that he's
achieved so far, and I'm excited for him," Blazers coach Maurice Cheeks said.

Randolph has one year left on his current contract. The
extension would make him a Trail Blazer through the 2010-11 season.

Nash, who has led the Blazers' charge of building a team of
character, said he is satisfied that Randolph's past indiscretions are history.

As recently as this summer, Randolph was at an Indiana nightclub
when a shooting broke out and three people were wounded. Randolph's
brother, Roger, faces three counts of battery with a deadly weapon.

Zach Randolph was not charged.

"Any time you make the kind of commitment that we made, and
this certainly was a significant one, you take into consideration
all aspects," Nash said. "All I can say is we were very, very
comfortable, knowing what we know about Zach Randolph the person
and player, to go forward."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.