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Originally published February 9, 2012 at 2:02 PM | Page modified February 9, 2012 at 9:25 PM

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Storm makes it official, signs Sue Bird, Tanisha Wright

Storm guards Sue Bird and Tanisha Wright re-signed with the Storm on Thursday. Both players want to finish their WNBA careers with Seattle.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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The deal was finished last summer.

Storm coach and general manager Brian Agler casually spoke with point guard Sue Bird about her future, the seven-time All-Star saying she wanted to play out her WNBA career in Seattle. Done.

Thursday it was finalized, along with the re-signing of backcourt cohort Tanisha Wright. Bird and Wright each signed multiyear contracts believed to be worth $105,500 for this summer.

Neither Bird nor Agler would state specifics about her deal in a teleconference call on Thursday, but said Bird's deal could carry the 10-year veteran into retirement.

"And if she lasts through this contract, we'll just get another contract," Agler said via telephone from Seattle while Bird spoke from her apartment in Ekaterinburg, Russia. "Sue will tell us how long she wants to play."

Details and league rules made Bird an unrestricted free agent for the second time in her career. Agler never considered making Bird a "core" player, taking her at her word that she would return to Seattle, even though she was the best player available in the free-agent pool.

Despite an Internet rumor regarding Phoenix wanting to lure her to the Mercury, Bird said she wasn't contacted by any other WNBA team.

"I'm the most unwanted point guard in the WNBA," she joked.

Agler quickly interjected with the contrary.

"Every time I talk to a team it always came up, 'You don't want to trade Sue Bird to us, do you?' " he said. "There's 11 other teams that would love to have Sue's services for one season, if not more. Trust me — she's highly regarded out there."

Since Bird's arrival as the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2002, the Storm has missed the postseason only once (2003) and has won two WNBA championships (2004, 2010). The past seven seasons Bird has helped Wright develop into a formidable player, the pair seamlessly handling offensive responsibilities while backing each other up defensively.

Wright, 28, was drafted 12th overall in 2005 by former coach Anne Donovan and has said the past two years she would like to mirror Bird and Lauren Jackson in playing out her career for the Storm. Wright is currently playing in Israel and was unavailable for comment.

"I don't think a lot of people can say they've spent their whole career with one team," Wright said in a statement. "I'm extremely blessed. I'm happy that the organization wanted me back and we could get this done."

Bird and Wright will have an altered look around them this season. Agler signed Belgian center Ann Wauters on Monday and traded veterans Swin Cash and Le'coe Willingham in January.

Jackson won't join the team until after the London Olympics in order to compete with the Australian national team. Despite the question marks, Bird's and Wright's loyalty didn't waver.

"Of course who's on a team is very important. I want to compete for a championship," Bird said. "But I know Lauren's coming back, and there's whisperings about players. I feel confident ... but regardless, Seattle is the place for me."

Bird, 31, underwent hip surgery to repair a torn right labrum in September. She's healthy now and will make her third whirlwind transition from play in Russia to the WNBA to the Olympics and back to the WNBA to finish the Storm season.

Depending on how UMMC Ekaterinburg performs, Bird could be overseas until May 1. Team USA will likely have a training camp before the WNBA camps opening April 28. The Storm season opener is May 19.

"It's great," Bird said of the hip. "Aside from what the doctor told me was going to be usual soreness, I really don't notice it. I'm really happy about it and I'm feeling good. I need a couple weeks, maybe a little bit more to get game-ready, but I feel great now. I'm not limited at all."

Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or jevans@seattletimes.com.

On Twitter @JaydaEvans

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