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Przybilla signs on the dotted line

Center signs a 5-year deal worth $32 million
by: L.E. Baskow, The Blazers' Joel Przybilla and his wife Noelle get a bit wet during a ride in a Willamette Jet Boat. Przybilla  signed a new contract Monday morning at a ceremony before family, friends and fans at the Eastbank Esplanade.

Center Joel Przybilla made it official Monday morning, as the Trail Blazers announced that he had signed a free-agent contract with them.

Przybilla and his wife, Noelle, were on hand for a ceremony and news conference at the Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade.

Przybilla, 26, has a new five-year deal with Portland. It will be worth $32 million, if he exercises his fifth-year option to stay with the team.

The 7-foot-1 Przybilla came to the Blazers before the 2004-05 NBA season as a free agent. Last season, injuries limited him to 56 games, but he averaged 6.1 points and 7.0 rebounds in 24.9 minutes per outing, and he shot 54.8 percent from the field.

After his sophomore season at the University of Minnesota, Pryzbilla was the ninth pick in the 2000 NBA draft. He played his first 3 1/2 seasons for Milwaukee before being traded to Atlanta.

'We are ecstatic about signing Joel to a new contract,' said Trail Blazers President/General Manager Steve Patterson. "We want talented players with character who want to be here in Portland. Joel is the embodiment of the direction that this franchise has taken the last few years and his return is another great step in making this team the Pride of Portland.'

Adds coach Nate McMillan: 'It is great that we have Joel back with us and under contract. He brings leadership and work ethic to a very young team.

"The fact that he wants to remain a Trail Blazer sends a very loud and clear message to his teammates that he believes in the path that the team is taking to turn things around.'

Przybilla says he and his wife wanted to remain in Portland. 'We have grown to love the city and we like where the organization is headed,' he says.