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King for life?
by Nebojsa Petrovacki / June 16, 2005

The road between dissatisfaction and complete loyalty to the club seems to be a short one for professional athletes.

Remember Predrag Stojakovic and his unusually blunt request for a trade from the Sacramento Kings last summer? Well, from all we heard regarding his situation on the team from the capital of California, Stojakovic and his agent David Bauman would like us to forget about that demand altogether.

Even though the Kings were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Seattle SuperSonics, Stojakovic is showing some very clear signs that after his contract is up, his future NBA team might be the same as the current one.

Whether it was motivated because of the Chris Webber trade or because privately he feels just cozy in Sacramento, where he lives a comfortable family life with his beautiful wife and his baby, and where he bought the house for his parents this winter, we would probably never know.

But this is what Bauman had to say when asked Stojakovic’s assertions regarding his future NBA destination:

"I really hope that we would be able to agree with the Kings on a new contract very soon, perhaps even after the end of next season, when Peja has an option to opt out of his current contract," said Bauman. "He feels very comfortable about the direction of the team, he considers Sacramento his home and he thinks that, with appropriate acquisitions through the draft and free agency or trades, the Kings can be a power in the West with Peja and Mike Bibby as leaders of this new team."

Joe Maloof, co-owner of the team, also seems to think Stojakovic is in Sacramento for the long run.

"Yeah, absolutely!" Maloof said when asked if he thinks Stojakovic deserves a maximum contract. "I mean, he went through so much with us and without his presence this team would lose its recognition and its unique offensive abilities. I know that I would probably have to break the bank to offer him a max, but Peja deserves it. Hey, I would offer him a max, and then he can be a King for the rest of his playing career. He is one guy who I wouldn’t have second thoughts about."

Stojakovic, in his usual polite and very cautious way of dealing with the media, didn’t particularly comment on this assurance from his boss. However, he was much more vocal and firm regarding his impending obligations with the national team of Serbia-Montenegro in the European Championship that will be held in his next September.

"Yes, I am absolutely playing for the national team this summer," Stojakovic said. "We are the hosts, so it is time for all of us from the NBA and Europe to come together and bring back the gold where it belongs."

Nebojsa Petrovacki is the editor of Sportska Centrala, a sports news agency from Serbia-Montenegro

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