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Blazers extend Cheeks' contract

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Portland, OR (Sports Network) - The Portland and head coach Maurice Cheeks agreed on a one-year contract extension Thursday. Cheeks, who is now signed with the team through the 2005-06 season, took the reigns in Portland in June of 2001. He has coached the Blazers to a 103-68 in his two-plus seasons, including a 4-3 record this year.

"Maurice is an essential member of the and the Portland community," said Blazers president Steve Patterson. "As this organization moves forward, it is important to ensure that Maurice is our head coach. We are excited to have Maurice be a part of the future of this franchise."

Portland was 50-32 last season and nearly pulled off an astounding comeback against Dallas in the first round of the playoffs. The Mavs, poised for a sweep, jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the series before the Blazers won three straight and forced a Game 7.

Dallas won that final game, however, and eliminated Portland from the postseason.

"Obviously, it's nice to know the organization has confidence in my abilities as coach." Cheeks said. "I'm excited about our future as a team and an organization and I'm looking forward to being a part of it."

Cheeks, a 15-year veteran of the NBA, began his coaching career as an assistant in the CBA, where he led the Quad City Thunder to the league championship in 1993-94. He then returned to the NBA and was hired by the as an assistant, a position he held for seven years.

The 47-year-old Cheeks is credited with the development of All-Star guard and helped coach the to the 2001 NBA Finals.

A four-time NBA All-Star, he was selected by Philadelphia in the second round of the 1978 draft. Cheeks then became the starting point guard, starring on the 1983 NBA championship team.

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