How deals may be shaping up as rookie extension deadline nears
NBA.com Global on Oct 10, 2017 07:45 AM
Minnesota Timberwolves' Andrew Wiggins, left, goes for a lay-up against Orlando Magic's Elfrid Payton during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
By David Aldridge, TNT analyst
We’re a week from the deadline for 2014 first-round Draft picks to get contract extensions. Those that don’t will become restricted free agents next summer, able to sign offer sheets from other teams which the incumbent teams can match. Deals that don’t look possible today often get done in the last seven days before the deadline, and this year will be no different.
Three 2014 first-rounders - the Phoenix Suns’ T.J. Warren, the Denver Nuggets’ Gary Harris and the Sacramento Kings’ Bogdan Bogdanovic -- have already signed new deals. (Bogdanovic signed a three-year, $36 million deal with the Kings, who acquired his Draft rights from Phoenix in 2016. He’d played with Turkish power Fenerbahce the last three years before coming over to the States this summer, and thus became an unrestricted free agent before signing with Sacramento.)
Here’s a handicap of the current state of discussions, with players in the order in which they were taken, with their current team following:
Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota Timberwolves: The league-wide assumption has been that he’ll sign the five-year, $148 million extension that Minnesota offered months ago and that Wiggins appeared to agree to this summer, even after Wiggins fired his former agent, Bill Duffy. Yet Wiggins, for some reason he’s not disclosing, has yet to sign the deal. Whatever the cause for the delay, there’s no expectation that Wiggins is going anywhere or that he’ll test the market as a restricted free agent next summer.
Jabari Parker, Milwaukee Bucks: Tough call for Milwaukee. Parker’s talent is obvious and he could be a major pillar of the Bucks’ core with Giannis Antetokounmpo going forward. But Parker’s coming off a second ACL injury, suffered last year, and isn't expected back until February. Milwaukee could re-route some of the combined $29 million it's paying Greg Monroe and John Henson this season to Parker, but this one is going down to the wire. Right now, the lean is to no deal.
Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers: The sides are “optimistic,” per one source, that a deal will get done by next week. But there are a lot of moving parts here -- chief among them Embiid’s ability to stay healthy. He’s been cleared for 5-on-5 work in practice after left knee surgery in March shut him down last season. But Embiid’s history of injuries makes gauging his future murky. Last year’s biggest big man extensions for 2013 first-rounders -- four years and $102 million for Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert; four and $100 for Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams -- aren’t great frames of reference for Embiid. As well, Gobert and Adams have been pretty durable the last few years. But Embiid’s too important to Philly’s future and a deal with lower guarantees and future incentives based on playing time will likely be the way this gets resolved.
(Editor’s note: after this was published, reports surfaced that the two sides were able to agree on a max extension)
Aaron Gordon, Orlando Magic: With new management in Orlando that need time to evaluate before committing to nine-figure deals, Gordon might fall along the same path as Nerlens Noel, who didn’t get extended by the Philadelphia 76ers before he was traded to Dallas last Feburary.
Dante Exum, Utah Jazz: The guard’s case for an extension continues to be derailed by injuries - he suffered a separated shoulder in Friday night’s (Saturday, PHL time) exhibition game against Phoenix and will be out indefinitely, perhaps for the season. While Utah still believes Exum is a part of its future, his latest injury couldn’t have come at a worse time.
Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics: Smart has been a significant part of Boston’s rotation for three seasons, though he’s only started 72 of the 207 games in which he’s played. And he’ll come off the bench again this season behind Kyrie Irving. No longer needing to save up to re-sign Isaiah Thomas, the Celtics almost certainly will get something done with Smart, maybe along the lines of what Toronto gave Terrence Ross. Like Smart, Ross was a lottery pick - in 2012 - and as part of the Raptors’ rotation before being traded to Orlando last season. He got three years and $33 million from Toronto in 2015; Smart will probably get more per year.
Julius Randle, Los Angeles Lakers: Talks have just begun in earnest, but the Lakers have, as we all seem to know, plans for next summer, when they hope to sign two max free agents. Tying up any money for anyone else, including Randle, seems unlikely until Los Angeles makes its moves in 2018.
Nik Stauskas, Philadelphia 76ers: “Sauce Castillo” had some big games last year and started to look comfortable as a scorer off the bench. But Embiid’s going to get taken care of first and there’s an extension for Robert Covington that’s all but completed, too. Stauskas will probably have to go get a deal somewhere else in 2018 and bring it back for Philly to match.
Noah Vonleh, Portland Trail Blazers: The Blazers talked him up a lot after he came from Charlotte in the Nicolas Batum deal in 2015, but Vonleh hasn’t cracked more than 17 minutes per game in his two seasons in Portland. Paul Allen’s pockets are deep, but would be surprised to see him green light an extension.
Elfrid Payton, Orlando Magic: He improved last season, raising his shooting percentage to .471 from .436 the season before, posting a career high Offensive Rating of 107, and continued to be a solid distributor at more than six assists per game. But he’s still abysmal on three-pointers (27.4 percent). Is there a deal possible for a good but not great offensive player who didn’t make an impact defensively? Maybe. But not from people that didn’t draft him.
Doug McDermott, New York Knicks: “McBuckets,” sent to New York by the Thunder as part of the Carmelo Anthony deal last month, has not been able to stick after playing for the Bulls and Oklahoma City. Chicago acquired him from Denver on Draft night in 2014; OKC got McDermott and Taj Gibson at the trade deadline from Chicago last February. An extension from the Knicks is highly unlikely.
Dario Saric, Philadelphia 76ers: Saric is not yet eligible for a rookie extension as he came over last year after playing the previous two seasons for Anadolu Efes in Turkey. But since he was less than three years from his NBA Draft date when he signed with Philly last year, he is still on his rookie deal with the 76ers, and thus can’t be offered an extension until 2019.
Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls: Told there’s “nothing substantive” at the moment between the sides, but that will no doubt change by the end of next week. LaVine is the key piece Chicago got from Minnesota in the Jimmy Butler trade on Draft night and is an explosive talent (18.9 points on 39 percent shooting for the Wolves before tearing his ACL last February) that is still on an upward arc. He also won’t turn 23 until next March. He’ll miss a chunk of this season as he recovers from surgery, but rehabbing wings of recent vintage have a patron saint in Wesley Matthews, who got a four-year max deal for $70 million from the Mavs in 2015 while recovering from a torn Achilles’. And Tim Hardaway, Jr., secured a deal worth $18 million annually from the Knicks this summer, so we won’t need to hold any telethons for LaVine any time soon.
T.J. Warren, Phoenix Suns: Signed a four-year, $50 million extension with Phoenix last month.
Adreian Payne, Orlando Magic: Now with Orlando on a two-way G League deal after stints in Atlanta and Minnesota (which didn’t pick up his fourth-year option last year), Payne won’t get an extension from Orlando. Broke his hand last week in practice and is out of action indefinitely.
Jusuf Nurkic, Portland Trail Blazers: Nurkic is in a good position, having transformed the Blazers upon his arrival from Denver. He averaged 15.2 points and 10.5 rebounds in 20 games for Portland, giving the Blazers a legit low-post option they really hadn’t had since Greg Oden’s brief stints of health in 2008.
Athletic bigs like Andre Drummond (five years, $127 million) and Hassan Whiteside (four years, $98 million) have gotten fat deals the last couple of years. Nurkic is athletic in his own way, but doesn’t run the floor quite as well as those rim runners. His archtype would be Marc Gasol, currently in the midst of a five-year, $110 million deal with the Memphis Grizzlies. But Gasol is a three-time All-Star who’s been the lynchpin in Memphis for almost a decade. A more apt comparison for Nurkic could be Toronto’s Jonas Valanciunas, who got a four-year, $64 million deal from the Raptors two years ago, or Brook Lopez, who got a three-year, $60 million contract from the Brooklyn Nets in 2015.
Wherever he falls, the Blazers aren’t going to let Nurkic get to restricted free agency.
James Young, Boston Celtics: Waived by Bucks, who signed him in August after Boston made him an unrestricted free agent in July, last week.
Tyler Ennis, Los Angeles Lakers: With the Lakers on a minimum deal after finishing last season in L.A. after being traded from Houston. He won’t get an extension from the Lakers next summer.
Gary Harris, Denver Nuggets: Agreed to a four-year, $84 million ($74 million guaranteed) extension with Denver on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time), a good deal both for Harris and the Nuggets.
Bruno Caboclo, Toronto Raptors: Nothing at present between the player who is now just two years away (per Fran Fraschilla’s brilliant Draft night evaluation of Caboclo in 2015) from being a regular contributor to the Raps. Given that Toronto put $100 million into Kyle Lowry this past summer, and that Caboclo is still a ways away, it’s not a surprise.
Mitch McGary, Oklahoma City Thunder: Currently out of the NBA after being waived by Oklahoma City in 2016, McGary has found a new competitive outlet: bowling.
Jordan Adams, Free Agent: Waived by Memphis last year, Adams is currently out of the league after playing for Portland’s Summer League team in Vegas in July.
Rodney Hood, Utah Jazz: You hear an extension for Hood, who averaged 12.7 points last season, is a priority for Utah. But his numbers and play fell off last season; he dropped to 40.8 percent shooting, and while Ricky Rubio will get good shots for everyone, it’s hard to see them being better ones than Gordon Hayward’s presence created last year. But Hood can point to what Oklahoma City committed to 2013 first-rounder Victor Oladipo (four years, $84 million) - like Hood, a scorer off the dribble but not a great perimeter shooter - and ask, ‘why not me?’ Certainly seems like Hood will get done before others in Utah who’ve been waiting for new deals, like forward Derrick Favors.
Shabazz Napier, Portland Trail Blazers: The guard LeBron James wanted in Miami after he led UConn to the 2014 national championship, Napier played for the Heat just one season and Orlando for another before getting traded to Portland in 2016. Played in 53 games for the Blazers last season, but won’t be getting an extension there.
Clint Capela, Houston Rockets: No one wants to talk about the discussions, but Capela is a huge part of Houston’s rotation and future. They’ll make a deal with him - if not quite for what defense-first bigs like Gobert or DeAndre Jordan (four years, $88 million) got in recent years, something in the neighborhood. It’s a very nice neighborhood.
P.J. Hairston, Free Agent: The troubled forward played for the Rockets’ G League team last year after bouncing from Miami to Charlotte to Toronto to Memphis since 2014. He wasn’t signed this summer after being arrested in North Carolina last May.
Bogdan Bogdanovic, Sacramento Kings: Signed a three-year, $36 million deal with the Kings this summer.
C.J. Wilcox, Portland Trail Blazers: Now with the Blazers on a two-way G League contract after failing to stick with the Clippers and the Magic, Wilcox will not be getting an extension.
Josh Huestis, Oklahoma City Thunder: Huestis is not eligible to get an extension this year, after agreeing to spend all of what would have been his rookie NBA season in 2014-15 with OKC's G League affiliate. He agreed to sign a deal with the G League team - thus staying off of OKC's books that year - in exchange for the Thunder agreeing to take him in the first round and help develop him close by. He thus avoided going in the second round, where anyone could have taken him and asked him to play in Europe. As a result, he's only logged two NBA seasons, and he's not eligible for an extension until 2018.
Kyle Anderson, San Antonio Spurs: “Slo-Mo” has made himself part of the family in San Antonio, playing in 150 games the last two years. And the Spurs take care of their own. But they also have a lot of wings on the roster - Rudy Gay, Joffrey Lauvergne, Derrick White and Brandon Paul - who’ll be fighting for playing time this season alongside Anderson.
And the Spurs have not signed any of their recent first-rounders to extensions. They traded George Hill, their first-round pick in 2008 that was beloved within the organization, to Indiana on Draft night in 2011 for Kawhi Leonard. Nor did they give Cory Joseph (2011) an extension -- he signed a $30 million offer sheet with Toronto in 2015 and the Spurs didn’t match. That doesn’t mean they won’t work out something with Anderson, but it’s not their history.
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