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Dallas Mavericks sign forward Josh Howard to four-year extension

Howard will play for $1.6 million this season, the last on his existing contract. Howard said he did not want to test the free-agent market after the season. "I'm glad it's done," Howard said before Dallas' pre-season game Thursday night against Milwaukee. "I knew I wanted to stay here as long as I could. Now I want to continue to play hard and get better."

Last season, his third in the NBA, Howard averaged a career-high 15.6 points and 6.3 rebounds to help the Mavericks to the most successful season in their history before losing to the Miami Heat in six games in the NBA Finals.

Talks between Howard's representatives and owner Mark Cuban had bogged down over the summer, but Cuban said it was important to get a new deal finalized with a key player like Howard before the regular season got underway.

"Josh has worked hard and he's an important part of the team," Cuban said. "We're glad to get it done."

Howard was no sure thing when he was drafted by the Mavericks with the 29th overall selection in 2003, but the Wake Forest product has developed into one of the league's best young players.

"It's a blessing for me and my family," Howard said. "I love the city, love the fans, and enjoy playing here. I'm going to be the same guy no matter how much money I make."

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