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Amaechi Staying With Magic


The Orlando Magic don't have to worry about losing another free-agent center to the Los Angeles Lakers this offseason.

John Amaechi is not the player Shaquille O'Neal is, but the Magic need him nonetheless especially after failing to lure Tim Duncan from San Antonio.

Amaechi said Sunday he will re-sign with the Magic, turning down more money from the NBA champion Lakers. He called it an agonizing decision.

"Against the counsel of my agent, sisters and best friend, against everything that says I'm not making the best of the situation, against my own best financial sense, I'm re-signing because I think the Magic need me more than the Lakers," Amaechi told The Orlando Sentinel.

The 6-foot-10 Amaechi turns down a six-year, $17 million guaranteed contract offer from the Lakers to sign a short-term deal with the Magic. He averaged 10.5 points, 3.3 rebounds and 21.1 minutes in 80 games last season.

Amaechi, 29, can make more in a multiyear deal with the Magic than with the Lakers as much as $27 million over six years. But not until after this season, so he is gambling that he won't get injured and that Orlando will reward his loyalty.

"I hope the circumstances don't conspire to come back and haunt me," Amaechi said. "The risk is looming on my conscience, but the Magic have been good to me and we're a pretty good combination. I believe in myself. I have a great deal of faith in myself that I can produce."

Amaechi likely would have started at power forward for the Lakers alongside O'Neal, the reigning NBA MVP who left Orlando for Los Angeles after the 1995-96 season.

The Magic, who already have commitments from incoming free agents Grant Hill and Tracy McGrady, can bump Amaechi's salary only 20 percent for the upcoming season $450,000 to roughly $600,000. The Lakers could have paid him $2.2 million in the first year of a deal.

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