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Nets pick up options on Jefferson, Collins
By TOM CANAVAN, AP Sports Writer
October 27, 2003
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- The New Jersey Nets picked up the options on the contracts of forward Richard Jefferson and center Jason Collins for next season.

``These are two players who played a big part in helping turn this franchise around,'' Nets president Rod Thorn said Monday. ``We expect them to be around for a long time.''

The Nets had until Friday to pick up the options on the fourth year of the contracts or the players would have become free agents after this season.

Jefferson, the 13th pick overall in the 2001 NBA Draft, will earn $1.32 million this year and $1.89 million next year. His original three-year contract was worth $3.71 million.

Collins, who was selected five spots after Jefferson, will earn $1.02 million this year and $1.573 million next year. His original three-year deal was worth $2.87 million.

The Nets, who open the season Wednesday at Toronto, have not picked up next year's option on the contract of seldom-used guard Brandon Armstrong. The 24th pick in the 2001 draft played in only 17 games last season.

Jefferson and Collins moved into the Nets' starting lineup last season, their second in New Jersey.

A small forward out of Arizona, Jefferson played in 159 regular-season games and 40 playoff games, averaging 12.5 points and 5.1 rebounds during the regular season and 10.5 points and 5.5 rebounds during the playoffs.

Jefferson shot 50.1 percent from the field last season, one of 13 NBA players to record a field goal percentage of 50 percent or better.

Collins has played in 158 games, averaging 5.1 points and 4.2 rebounds. The Stanford product has appeared in 37 playoff games, averaging 4.5 points and 4.5 rebounds.

Collins started 66 games last season and played in 81 of 82 contests. He led the team in rebounding five times and in blocks 16 times.

The Nets acquired the rights to Jefferson, Collins and Armstrong on draft day in 2001 in exchange for the rights to former Seton Hall star Eddie Griffin, the seventh pick overall.