No longer a bargain?

I think we can all agree that, for his price, DeShawn Stevenson has been a revelation.  For a guy making the veteran's minimum, Stevenson has, at the very least, been an average NBA player.  Truthfully, he's probably a bit above-average, as he's improved his jumper, started to become more assertive when Antawn and Caron went out, and become a good perimeter defender.

Is our love for Stevenson simply a factor of his minimum contract?  We're probably going to find out this offseason, as it appears he's going to opt out and seek a new contract.  

From the Washington Times.

Washington Wizards guard DeShawn Stevenson will almost certainly opt out of his contract after this season and explore free agency, a source close to the player said yesterday.

I mean, this is hardly surprising.  Stevenson rejected a 3 year/10 million dollar contract from Orlando last offseason, thinking he'd make more on the open market.  When he didn't, he signed the veterans minimum contract with the Wizards, with the assumption that he'd test the free agent market again next year.  The only news here is that he's actually announced it.

You also had the obligatory "I want to stay here" quotes, but it does seem like Stevenson generally likes DC and would love being a Wizards next year.

"This team has the best core of players I've ever been on," said Stevenson, a one-time teammate of Karl Malone and John Stockton's in Utah. "I feel like this team has more of an upside than the others because they already have their core players. They already have their scorers. I just have to come and play hard and some nights I have to come down and just knock down my shots."

So this now raises the question.  Just how much is DeShawn worth?  There's something to be said for continuity, especially after losing Larry Hughes and Jared Jeffries in the last two offseasons.  On the other hand, paying Stevenson too much may push the Wizards into luxury tax territory, which I'm assuming Abe Pollin ideally would want to avoid.  

What would you pay Stevenson?  Leave your answers in the comments.

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