To Extend Or Not Extend, That Is the Question
The 2014 NBA Draft class became extension eligible this summer, and while it seems likely that the Timberwolves and 2014 top overall pick Andrew Wiggins will consummate a five-year $148 million deal before the October 16 extension deadline, some of the others are bit murkier.
League sources said recently that there was a sense that Milwaukee would be open to a deal with Parker, mainly because they have that much faith in a full recovery, but doing a deal at max dollars seemed almost out of the question. Given that Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo agreed to a four-year, $100 million deal last September, it unlikely that Parker is going to see anything close to that kind of number after another ACL tear.
The prevailing thought in NBA circles is that if Parker wants to lock in four more contract years, the Bucks would do that — it would simply have to be a very good price point for Milwaukee.
The likely outcome, according to sources, is that Parker gets healthy and plays out as much of the season as he can, and goes after his deal next summer as a restricted free agent.
Believe it or not, it’s actually time to pay Embiid, despite him having played only 31 games in his three NBA seasons. While every conversation from the 76ers side of things is how important Embiid is to the future, has he shown enough to warrant a maximum contract?
League sources said recently they there was a growing sense that the 76ers would indeed extend Embiid, and that a deal structured something like Antetokounmpo’s four-year $100 million pact would make sense given the injury history. The problem with getting a deal done at less than max is that many in Embiid’s world believe he could get a max offer in restricted free agency next year, especially if he plays at the level he did for 31 games last season.
The question for Embiid is would he take less guaranteed years than the five-year maximum he’d be eligible for, and would he agree to less than max to lock in security? To put that in context, a four-year max contract would come in at roughly $117 million.
While the 76ers have nothing but cap room to spend, they do have to be smart about how they leverage their future. Not only is it time to pay Embiid, but because the youth on the roster will all be in similar places fairly soon and the 76ers want to continue to have the ability to add in free agency.
Typically, no-brainer extensions happen in July; the fact that the 76ers and Embiid have not consummated a deal illustrates it’s not the slam dunk some Sixer fans might have expected.
The new Orlando Magic front office has taken a “wait and see” approach on a number of fronts, including who will be core parts of the future. That’s not to say the new Magic leadership doesn’t value Gordon; what it means is the team is taking a fresh look at what really works and what does not. It’s a big reason why the Magic did not upend the roster this summer in trade, because some pieces might make sense in a new vision for the future.
Specific to Gordon, league sources said this one might come down to how much of a discount Gordon is willing to take in order to lock in long-term security and have the best chance to stay in Orlando.
The problem with that is that no one on the Magic staff was responsible for drafting Gordon, and while he is blossoming into an interesting player, is he worth $80 or $90 million on a four or five-year deal?
The answer there is honestly, the Magic don’t know.
The problem with early rookie extensions is the values are not based on market conditions, rather teams and agents bidding against themselves.
Another factor impacting this year’s rookie extension crop is the uncertainty of the free agent marketplace. The NBA salary cap is not expected to jump in a major way next July with current projections pegging the cap to clock in at $103 million, up from this year’s $99 million.
It is more likely that the Magic play out the season with both Gordon and fellow 2014 draftee Elfrid Payton and take their chances in restricted free agency next summer — not because the team doesn’t value either player, mainly because the Magic are trying to find out what really works under head coach Frank Vogel.
Assuming the Cavaliers and Celtics consummate a revised Isaiah Thomas-Kyrie Irving trade, the Celtics won’t have to worry about a new financial commitment in July to Thomas and can seriously consider the future with Marcus Smart.
An extension for Smart seems unlikely mostly because Smart is likely going to want a hefty a price tag. The Celtics have to be mindful of their cap situation going forward as they build around their youth.
The Celtics can and likely will re-sign Smart, but that’s more likely to happen after this season and a run through restricted free agency where the Celtics might find a price break.
Like some of the others on this list, Smart could opt for a team friendly deal and lock in his future, but given the log jam of point guards, it might be more logical for Smart to see what the season brings and try and find his own team in July.
The Lakers will not be doing an extension for Julius Randle. In fact, there is a better than average chance Randle is traded at some point as a means to open up cap space for the Lakers big push into the 2018 free agent class.
Randle has emerged as a very interesting young player and frankly might be one of the Lakers best non-core trade chips.
If the Lakers were to extend Randle, not only would it bite into future cap space, it would make him harder to trade this season.
Trading an extended player complicates his outgoing trade value, as all of the contract years – old deal and new deal – get averaged out. This is done to prevent teams from circumventing the salary cap. The Lakers would only be able to take back his actual current year salary, meaning the acquiring team would need cap space to absorb the difference.
Given the Lakers’ eyes for major free agents next July, Randle is going to get shelved. The good news for the Lakers is they won’t have to make a real decision on Randle until next summer, where they could make him a restricted free agent if their free agent dreams come to a crashing halt.
The smart money says Randle won’t finish the season in LA, as he’ll be used to move off longer term salary.
With Gordon Hayward gone, the Jazz face an interesting decision – should they lock up Rodney Hood now or wait and see what the market thinks next July?
Sources close to the situation said recently that Hood and his camp are very open to an extension. While Hood is expected to play a bigger role sans Hayward, there is a window over the next two months to lock Hood into a deal that might make more sense for the Jazz today than waiting until next July.
The prevailing thought is something similar to what Evan Turner got from Portland (four-years $70 million) would lock in Hood for the next four years.
The question for the Jazz is do they bite now on a player that’s missed 58 games over the past three seasons, or do they risk Hood improving on his 12.7 points per game and 37.1 percent three-point average?
There seems to be at least a willingness on Hood’s side to get an early extension done; we’ll see if the Jazz feels the same way.
While there are a number of other 2014 draft picks that might reach contract extensions before the deadline. The players listed above are the ones most likely to extend, the rest may have to go through restricted free agency unless they are willing to sign team friendly deals.
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New Orleans Pelicans and Cliff Alexander Agree To Deal
The New Orleans Pelicans and free agent forward Cliff Alexander have agreed to a one-year, non-guaranteed deal, a league source told Basketball Insiders.
The addition of Alexander will give New Orleans 20 players heading into training camp.
Alexander spent last season playing 40 combined games with the Erie Bayhawks and Long Island Nets in the G-League, where he averaged 15.8 points and 8.9 rebounds in 27.3 minutes per game. Alexander also shot 52 percent from the field and blocked one shot per game.
The 21-year-old forward was a McDonald’s All-American and won MVP of the Jordan Brand Classic in 2014 before attending Kansas University. Alexander played 28 games as a Jayhawk and averaged 7.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks in 17.6 minutes per game before declaring for the draft.
After going undrafted, Alexander played in eight games for Portland during the 2015-16 season and received a 10-day contract from the Brooklyn Nets in April.
For more information on the salary cap and roster situation for the New Orleans Pelicans, click here.
New Orleans Pelicans and free agent forward Cliff Alexander have agreed to a 1-year, non-guaranteed deal, league source told @BBallInsiders.
— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) September 24, 2017
Atlanta Hawks and John Jenkins Agree To Deal
The Atlanta Hawks and free agent guard John Jenkins have agreed to a training camp deal, a league source told Basketball Insiders.
The addition of Jenkins will give Atlanta 20 players heading into training camp.
Jenkins drew interest from several other teams, including the Minnesota Timberwolves and Milwaukee Bucks.
The 26-year-old guard began his career in Atlanta after the Hawks selected him 23rd overall out of Vanderbilt in the 2012 draft. For his career, Jenkins has averaged 5.1 points in 12.8 minutes per game while shooting 45 percent from the field overall and 36 percent from beyond the arc.
For more information on Atlanta’s salary cap and roster situation, click here.
Atlanta Hawks and free agent guard John Jenkins have agreed to a training camp deal, a league source told @BBallInsiders.
— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) September 24, 2017
Golden State Warriors 2017-18 Season Preview
The Golden State Warriors remain the cream of the NBA crop, even after several franchises went all in this offseason. Can anyone really beat the Warriors in a seven-game series? We look at the Warriors in this final NBA season preview.
After losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2015-16 NBA Finals, the Golden State Warriors were highly favored to win the 2016-17 championship with the offseason addition of Kevin Durant. In the Warriors’ third straight Finals match up with Cavaliers, Golden State, with plenty of help from Durant, over-matched Cleveland in last season’s NBA Finals. This year, with Durant taking a pay cut, the team did a masterful job of bringing back just about all of the key players from last year’s championship run. Now the team is primed to wreak havoc on the league once again.
FIVE GUYS THINK…
It’s almost comical at this point how the best team in basketball keeps getting better.
After adding Kevin Durant last summer, and then completely decimating the entire NBA, including LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, all the Golden State Warriors did was go out and add two players in Omri Casspi and Nick Young who almost perfectly fit their brand of “you’re not out-shooting us” basketball.
The powers of the NBA all shuffled around their rosters this season in hopes of trying to assemble some type of “anti-Warriors” remedy, and when it’s all said and done, those moves will be all for naught. Expect Golden State to ride their legendary roster to another NBA title.
1st place – Pacific Division
– Dennis Chambers
What do you need me to say about the Warriors that you don’t already know? Two of the best five players in the league are on the roster, as well as arguably the top defensive player in the league and a cast of reserves that fit perfectly with the superstars running the show. Even JaVale McGee is shooting three pointers now. The Warriors are unstoppable and in some ways even better than the team that won a championship a few months ago. It’s going to be a long season for every other team in the league. They’re all playing for second place.
1st Place – Pacific Division
– Joel Brigham
The road to the NBA Finals obviously goes through Oakland, especially after the club managed to re-sign JaVale McGee, Zaza Pachulia, Andre Iguodala, Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant. Nick Young will give the team some additional firepower, but they probably don’t even need it.
So long as these guys stay healthy, they’ll probably find their way to their fourth consecutive NBA Finals, and with the Clippers having lost Chris Paul, the Warriors should have a relatively easy time winning the Pacific Division for the fourth straight year.
I’m usually longer-winded than that, but I’m not sure much else needs to be said about the Warriors.
1st place – Pacific Division
– Moke Hamilton
At this point, what’s really left to say? The Warriors had arguably the best basketball team ever assembled last season, and that was while dealing with minor role concerns and dealing with Kevin Durant’s midseason injury. Then they went out and improved this offseason, adding the likes of Omri Casspi and Nick Young as perfect end-of-roster pieces. Combine that with what most would expect will be even better fit and chemistry across the roster this season, and the Warriors stand head and shoulders above the rest of the league even with several squads making big power moves to try and bridge the gap. Anything but a third title in four years will fail to do justice to the incredible, historical talent on this roster.
1st Place – Pacific Division
– Ben Dowsett
The best team in the NBA went out and retained key players and signed Omri Casspi and Nick Young to round out the roster. As has been the case for several years now, the Warriors enter the upcoming season with the most overall talent, improved chemistry, good health and every ingredient necessary to win an NBA championship. Several other contenders pulled off some impressive moves to try and bridge the gap between themselves and the Warriors, but Golden State still holds the advantage against every other team in the league. So long as the Warriors are playing up to their potential, or anywhere near it, the other contenders are out of luck. Unless the Warriors face some serious injuries this upcoming season or some internal discord, we should expect them to win their third championship in four seasons.
1st Place – Pacific Division
– Jesse Blancarte
TOP OF THE LIST
Top Offensive Player: Stephen Curry/Kevin Durant
Don’t knock me for not clearly choosing a single player here. The individual excellence of both Stephen Curry and Durant cannot be stated enough. While Curry’s statistics did take a bit of a step back from the year prior, he still led the way for the Warriors last season. Last year, Curry led the team in points per game (by a slim margin), three-pointers made, assists and usage percentage. Keep in mind, Durant was excellent but Curry still commanded the offense for the most part. However, Durant was right on Curry’s heels and in the playoffs actually slightly surpassed Curry in points per game. In addition, Durant remains as tough to cover one-on-one as anyone in the league. Regardless, both players are unbelievable individual talents and would easily be the top offensive player on just about any other team.
Top Defensive Player: Draymond Green
For the foreseeable future, Draymond Green has this category on lockdown for the Warriors. Green uses a combination of length, strength, timing and sneaky athleticism to smother his opponents. Green’s versatility allows him to guard a range of positions in the post and switch to guard guards and forwards on the wing effectively as well. His versatility is the lynchpin of the Warrior’s vaunted death line up that uses Green at center and brings Iguodala off the bench to close games. Last year’s Defensive Player of the Year race came down to Green and Utah center Rudy Gobert. In the end, Green’s versatility as well as his ability to guard the rim effectively made him the top choice in voters’ minds. Expect Green to be in the running for Defensive Player of the Year this upcoming season as well.
Top Playmaker: Stephen Curry
When the Warriors added Durant to the roster, many wondered, even for a team as unselfish as the Warriors, how would Stephen Curry and Durant manage to share the ball? That question was answered when Curry took a step back and allowed Durant’s individual offensive brilliance to shine. Curry’s points per game dropped (30.1 to 25.3) as did his usage percentage (32.0 to 29.2). Curry’s individual excellence continued regardless as he remained the Warriors’ top distributor (followed closely by Draymond Green). In addition, Curry garners so much attention that his simple presence on the court creates more room for teammates to operate. Curry’s ability to pull up from virtually anywhere on the court and willingness to make the extra pass to teammates makes him a nightmare to cover and the Warriors’ top playmaker.
Top Clutch Player: Kevin Durant/Stephen Curry
Once again, you could give this award to either of the Warrior’s two best offensive players. Curry dominates most of the advanced statistics when breaking down clutch play, defined as the last minutes of a game within 5 point or less, per nba.com. However, based on Durant’s size, length and ability to get off a shot in isolation, he makes for an excellent clutch player in just about any situation. Either is an extraordinary option and their play in crunch time continues to be critical to their championship fortunes.
The Unheralded Player: Klay Thompson
Klay Thompson is a phenomenal talent who does a number of things well. He’s an unbelievable three-point shooter and defends elite point guards to alleviate the pressure on Curry. For a team with two elite offensive players, having Thompson as your third option on offense is just unfair to the rest of the league. Thompson lights up the league with his ability to hit outside shots without needing to dominate the ball. Don’t just count on Thompson to score as he takes pride in his defense and his ability to lockdown on defense.
Best New Addition: Omri Casspi
Overall, the Warriors have had an unbelievable stretch of luck when it comes to injuries, which will hopefully rub off on Omri Casspi this season. With his length, versatility and the ability to stretch the floor, he can slide into either forward spot. His addition strengthens the team’s ability to survive the grind of the regular season and lessen the minutes of the starters. Casspi fills a lot of needs for several teams that are looking to challenge the Warriors, so simply keeping him away from those teams is an added benefit to his signing.
– James Blancarte
WHO WE LIKE
1. Steve Kerr
Steve Kerr continues to be the perfect coach for this team. He helps to keep the players focused on their individual roles within the larger team structure and has so far prevented major dissension and discord. Kerr took the team that Mark Jackson previously coached and helped to transform the team into champions. Credit is deserved for his part in successfully orchestrating the move of former All-Star Iguodala to a bench role and meshing Durant’s individual brilliance with the Warriors’ pre-existing, pass-happy offense. Kerr has missed significant time due to his botched spinal surgery, but if he can manage his health, count on Kerr to keep the Warriors a well-oiled machine.
2. Nick Young
Nick Young is a player that has had an up-and-down career. Credit Young for carving out a relatively successful career as a journeyman three-point shooting wing. Keeping Young focused and unlocking his full range of talents has been difficult for many organizations. The Warriors are up next and will give the 11th year pro an opportunity to do what he does best — knocking down three-pointers. As a career 37.6 percentage three-point shooter, Young will have a chance to get more open looks from distance than he has previously in his career. Like JaVale McGee, Young will also have a chance to transform his reputation if he proves to be a disciplined, effective contributor to a championship team.
3. Jordan Bell
What’s the perfect piece for a rebuilding team in need of young talent to build around? Jordan Bell, selected with the 38th pick in this year’s draft), is just that sort of player. The Warriors acquired the pick from the Chicago Bulls for cash consideration. The Bulls loss is the Warriors gain as hopes are high for the young talent from the University of Oregon. The Warriors will take their time with the 6-foot-9 forward and hope that he will build on and develop his defensive talents and one day be a reliable contributor for Golden State.
4. Shaun Livingston
Shaun Livingston is many years removed from the knee injury that nearly ended his professional career. While Livingston has played for nine teams in his career, he continues to be loyal to the Warriors, the team with which he has experienced the most success post-injury. Livingston continues to do whatever the team requires as he slides into either guard slot when needed and provides reliable production from the bench. Opposing backup point guards often get caught being posted up by the lengthy 6-foot-7 guard. Count Livingston as another essential cog who will do whatever it takes to help the Warriors win at all costs.
– James Blancarte
SALARY CAP 101
The Warriors are a major spender at $135.4 million in guaranteed salary, resulting in at least $32 million in luxury taxes. Golden State used its Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception to sign Nick Young at $5.2 million for a season. Having re-signed on one-year deals, Zaza Pachulia, David West and JaVale McGee can block any trades.
Before November, the Warriors need to decide on 2018-19 team options for Kevon Looney and Damian Jones. Next summer, Kevin Durant can opt out again but now the team has his Early Bird Rights and the ability to give him a raise in the $35 million range. The Warriors seem willing to pay for a winner but for how long as luxury taxes grow progressively as the team gradually becomes a repeat offender?
– Eric Pincus
This team continues to have everything you could want in a modern NBA team. An electric point guard who is nearly unstoppable, a 3-and-D wing with a killer three-point shot, an unstoppable one-on-one player who can score from anywhere, a dominant and flexible defensive forward who can play center and a defensive wing who is a great glue guy. That’s just the five players that are normally used to close out games. The rest of the roster has a number of key contributors ready to do whatever the team needs. Oh, and they also have a great coach to keep everyone on the same page. With all the pieces a team could want, expect the Warriors to again push a possible record-breaking pace in the regular season on their way to the playoffs and likely the Finals.
– James Blancarte
The easiest answer here is none. Eventually the injury bug might hit the Warriors but for now they have everything they could want to continue their excellent play. Perhaps some players may lose a sense of urgency in the regular season after breaking records and dominating the last few seasons, though that seems unlikely. On paper, this team is not afflicted by any major weaknesses.
– James Blancarte
THE BURNING QUESTION
Can anyone stop the Warriors?
Other teams continue to make moves to get better. On September 23, the Oklahoma City Thunder traded agreed to terms on a deal to acquire Carmelo Anthony from the New York Knicks. With that move, count the Thunder, Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs, Boston Celtics and the Cavaliers as the biggest potential obstacles in the Warriors’ path to repeat. One of these teams may beat them, but the Warriors are the heavy favorites and the team most likely to win the championship next year.
– James Blancarte