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Mehmet Okur signed a two year contract extension which will take effect when his current contract expires following the 2009-10 season with the Utah Jazz. Team spokesman Jonathan Rinehart said that the extention begins with the 2010-2011 season and runs through the 2011-2012 season. The Turkish center has expressed many times previously his desire to remain in Utah, and the fact that Salt Lake City is a second home to his family. He had also said that he was ready to make some financial sacrifices for the benefit of the team. Jazz president Randy Rigby stated that they were very pleased with the developments adding that , "We are excited that Memo has decided to remain with our franchise. Not only has he become a fan favorite, but Memo has made Salt Lake City his second home and the community has loved having him here.". Memo added that his family and himself never gave any serious thought to becoming a free agent in the summer of 2010 and signing a contract with a longer duration, in Utah or any where else. We caught up with Memo upon his return to Turkey and asked him some question in regards to the last few days and the new contract
Question: You said that you would be willing to make a financial sacrifice in the total worth of your contract, anywhere from $ 3-5 million in order to continue wearing a Jazz uniform. Did you need to sacrifice?
Memo: I believe that I showed that I really want to be here. Players after a certain age need security. That means for players around my age, the length or duration of that perhaps last big contract takes on more of an importance. Sometimes it becomes more important then the yearly salary. I know that I could have possibly signed a 3 or 4 year contract in 2010 easily. However Greg Miller was very cautious and he stated that he only wanted to extend for two years. It was important for me to remain a Jazzman. So I gave up the the possibility of maybe one or maybe two year lengthier contract to stay with the Jazz. When you start adding the numbers up it is a significant sacrifice. However we are very happy.
Questions: You now have three seasons. You are always stating that this team has to make sure that coach Jerry Sloan wins a championship before hanging them up. Do you think you will be able to establish this goal?
Memo: I will give it my best shot. I can say that. We did not finish up the season the way we would have liked, and especially after overcoming many adverse developments it was disappointing. I got hurt pretty badly with a game left in the regular season. However I honestly believe that we are not too far away. You look at Los Angeles, San Antonio and Dallas in the West and they have become even stronger. Denver and Portland are looking to get stronger. So it will not be easy. However if we are all on the same page, I know we will exceed expectations. There are also the fans in Salt Lake City who make EnergySolutions Arena one of the toughest road games in the league. If they believe in us and continue their support why not?
Question: You will be 33 years old when this extention runs out. We realize three years is a long way off, but what are your plans on that day? It won't be easy getting another long term deal at that age.
Memo: Yes three years is a long time. There are three whole seasons to be played yet. My goal is to play well enough during this time, so when that time comes my age won't be an issue and people will look at what I have accomplished and say keep it coming Memo. How is this possible? I will take care of my body, I will work hard, and I will have my best three seasons in the NBA. God willing, with no injuries I know I can do it. However I think we were reminded again this past season how important team success is. If the team does great, this reflects on you. This has to be our goal as a whole. When you look at me, you realize pretty quickly that I am not the type of player who loses physical qualities as he gets older. As long as there are no serious injuries. When people watch me, my athletic features don't jump out at them. I think it is the great athletes that lose some of their weapons as they age. I don't have worries like that.
Question: You said that Greg Miller was cautious. Were you expecting a bigger offer?
Memo: I have been here a while now. So I know that Larry Miller was so important for this team, this organization, this city and this state. Now you have Greg Miller his son, who wants to take this total product to higher levels. It is not easy following Larry Miller in any job. I never thought for a second that Mr Greg Miller is new, he lacks experience so how do I turn this into an advantage for myself. I want to be a part of this. So my attitude from the start was "If you want me here, I am not going to push, I am not going to demand but don't kill me.". They said they wanted me here, and after that the rest was not important, The numbers were not important. "Two years will make you feel good and comfortable? Let it be a two year extention then." They want to bring a championship here and that is their goal. Deron Williams can opt out in the summer of 2012. I knew that, I felt that this three year period would be very important for all involved. We have to make the best of these three years. The only thing of real importance is winning a championship. To have a team that is capable of accomplishing that. So you put some personel goals and expectations aside. I think I have shown how sincere I am about getting there.