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AINGE UNHAPPY WITH CONTRACT TALKS

Danny Ainge isn't sure the Portland Trail Blazers want him back next season.

Ainge becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season and negotiations to extend his contract broke off early in the season.Ainge, who began the season in a shooting slump but has improved dramatically since the All-Star break, remains unhappy with what he considers cold treatment by the team's front office.

"I really don't know what's going to happen," he told The Oregonian. "Right now, I'm not sure they care whether I come back or not."

Geoff Petrie, the Blazers' senior vice president for operations, said the team doesn't intend to let Ainge leave without making an attempt to keep him.

"We have no plans to just let him walk," Petrie said. "There's no guarantee he'll be back, of course, but we're not just going to let him leave."

That's news to Ainge, who says he's been wondering whether the team is interested in keeping him.

"Either they don't want me or they wanted to wait another year and see how I did," Ainge said. "You'd have to ask them."

Petrie said neither is correct.

He said the Blazers made "a very generous offer" to Ainge at the start of the season and insisted there was no intention to squeeze a big year out of the 32-year-old guard by making him play for a better contract.

Petrie and Portland coach Rick Adelman said that Ainge's work ethic and intensity has not diminished despite his contract problems.

"He hasn't shot as well as he has in the past, but lately he's started to shoot a lot better, and we've done a better job of finding him on the court," Adelman said. "The most difficult job in the league is to come off the bench cold and make shots, but that's Danny's role with us. He's the one guy on our bench who can make the outside shot, and he's done a better job of freeing himself to get those shots."

The Blazers' final offer to Ainge was a two-year deal. He would receive about $1.3 million the first year, with $375,000 in team incentives, and $1.6 million the second year.