NBA AM: The Extension Clock Is Winding Down
Teams have until Oct. 31 to extend the rookie scale players from the 2011 draft class. Some deals are closer than others.
Tick-Tock, Extension Clock Is Winding Down: NBA teams have until midnight on Friday to reach rookie scale contract extensions with those players that were drafted in the first round in 2011.
A few deals have gotten done already.
Cleveland inked Kyrie Irving to what is expected to be a five year, $90 million deal. The final value of that deal gets locked in next season based on where the salary cap number falls.
Phoenix inked Markieff and Marcus Morris to extensions valued at four years, $32 million and four-years, $20 million respectively.
The Orlando Magic reached a deal with center Nikola Vucevic on a four year, $48 million deal that’s said to include an additional $5 million in achievable incentives.
The Denver Nuggets reached a four year, $50 million extension with Kenneth Faried as well.
There are still active conversation taking place with a few other notable names, here is what we know:
Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves: The Wolves and Rubio could reach a deal before the deadline. Both sides understand what it will take to reach a deal with Rubio’s camp clinging to the notion of a max or near max contract. The Wolves understandably want a better financial deal. As the clock ticks down, a deal still remains possible as both sides seem to want to continue the marriage; the question is does a deal get done now or will Rubio see free agency next summer? This one is 50/50. They continue to talk, which could always lead to a deal.
Enes Kanter, Utah Jazz: The Jazz would like to lock up Kanter to a deal that makes sense. The problem for Utah is some of the deals that have gotten done have raised the bar a little higher than the Jazz would like to go. It’s possible that Kanter and the Jazz reach an agreement before the deadline, simply because big guys command money in free agency. If Kanter has a solid year he could get pricey and the Jazz would like to avoid that, especially after matching Gordon Hayward’s max offer sheet from Charlotte this summer. This is 40/60, that a deal doesn’t get done. There is interest in one. We’ll see if things swing over the course of the week.
Tristan Thompson, Cleveland Cavaliers: The Cavaliers and Thompson continue to talk. Word is Thompson’s camp is seeking a deal in the $11-$12 million per season range, which is awfully pricey for what Thompson has produced thus far. The fact that Thompson is represented by the same agent as LeBron James surely doesn’t hurt the situation, but sources close to the process say that James’ status isn’t impacting the process. There is a chance that the Cavs and Thompson reach a deal, although sources said both sides seem to be ok if this thing has to get pushed to the summer. This one is 50/50, with it being likely that a deal is reached if the price comes down.
Brandon Knight, Milwaukee Bucks: The Bucks and Knight seem to want to make a deal, although this one has played out pretty quietly. The going rate for a starting point guard in the NBA is basically $10-$12 million a season. That’s a ton for a team that still isn’t sure if Knight is a point guard or not. There has been an ongoing dialogue, so a deal remains possible; however, it’s hard to imagine the Bucks doing a $45-$50 million deal for Knight. This one looks 40/60, with Knight likely headed to free agency if only to let the season play out and determine his role in this new Bucks’ system.
Kemba Walker, Charlotte Hornets: There are a couple of things to note on this one: Walker and the Hornets have been talking and the tone and progression of things seems promising. The Hornets seem like they want to reach a deal, however, the five-year, $70 million deal Eric Bledsoe reached with the Suns has sort of gummed up the valuation. It seems likely that Walker and the Hornets reach a deal, the question becomes how much and for how long. This one looks 60/40 that a deal gets done before the deadline.
Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors: The Warriors and Klay Thompson seems to be at odds over price. Both sides have been talking, but Thompson’s camp wants a max or near max deal, while the Warriors seem to be hovering around the same sort of four-year $44 million package that Stephen Curry took in 2012 – something in the neighborhood of $12 million per season. This one could go to the wire. The Warriors don’t want Thompson’s contract to be the story all season and his camp knows it. So it’s a question of who blinks first. League sources believe this one gets done. The question is how much. If your putting odds on it, this one might be closer to 65/35 that it gets done.
Alec Burks, Utah Jazz: Like Kanter, the Jazz would like to lock Burks in and avoid what’s sure to be a bidding war over his services in July. Burks isn’t going to command crazy money as a free agent, but he could get a $7 or $8 million a year offer and if the Jazz can lock him in cheaper than that it’s simply good business to retain your high level draft picks. This one could get done as it’s not going to be crazy expensive. The question is does Burks want to bet on himself to have a solid year and bust out of the tier he is slotted in? This one is 50/50, with a deal possible.
Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs: While this one has been characterized somewhat negatively in the press, the truth is the Spurs and Leonard both want to reach an agreement. The problem is Leonard’s camp is seeking a full max deal, and the Spurs simply don’t do max contracts. This one might get done. There is a possibility that Leonard backs off the max number, however there is a sense that if Leonard gets to restricted free agency in July a number of teams would put a max level offer on the table, which is why Leonard’s camp is sticking to their guns. It’s unlikely that san Antonio lets Leonard walk, however not reaching a deal will introduce doubt into a locker room that doesn’t tolerate distractions. This one seems likely, with something like 60/40. The reason this one gets pegged lower odds-wise is it does not seem likely that Leonard’s camp budges off the max price tag.
Tobias Harris, Orlando Magic: The Magic and Harris have had talks, and those talks are said to be continuing. However, it does seem they are not close in a valuation. Harris’ camp sees him as an elite level scorer that has star potential and wants him paid accordingly. The Magic are not ready to pay that kind of price and seem more interested in letting Harris play out the season to see what the marketplace thinks. The Magic can always match a bigger dollar deal next summer, which gives them time to see if Tobias is really the player his representation believes he can be. For Harris’ part, he’d like to remain in Orlando and there seems to be room for a conversation if the gap between the Magic’s number and Harris’ number closes. That could happen before the deadline, however this one looks like it’s not going to get done. The one is like 30/70 that it doesn’t.
Reggie Jackson, Oklahoma City Thunder: Like Kemba Walker in Charlotte, there is a desire to get a deal done with Jackson. The problem is the valuation. Jackson’s camp sees him as a starting point guard and wants to see him paid accordingly. The Thunder have always been somewhat frugal in their approach to early contract extensions and usually look for a little discount for locking in guys early. It seems likely that a deal will get reached. Both sides are sort of on the same page, the question becomes dollars and years. This one is likely 50/50. If Jackson agrees to something under $10 million a year, that should get the deal done.
Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls: The Bulls and Butler could reach a deal. There is a reasonable number on the table and that number likely gets another push upwards. The question is will Butler take a compromised deal in the $8 to $9 million per year range or will he gamble on himself and look for a potentially bigger payday as a restricted free agent. The Bulls and Butler want to continue the relationship. The Bulls were quick to produce an offer, so that’s usually a sign that a deal can get done. This one has a 50/50 feel to it, mainly because Butler’s value could go up significantly if he has another strong season like he did two years ago. The Magic number here seems to be four years, $44 million, that’s not an insane number given where the Bulls are cap wise, but this one could go either way.
If teams do not reach an agreement by midnight on October 31, they will still have the option of restricting their player’s free agency with a qualifying offer next summer, giving them the right to match free agent contract offers in July.
The risk for teams not making a deal is that as many as 15 NBA teams could clear at least $15 million in cap space, with more than dozen being able to clear more than $20 million in space, making many of these players highly coveted free agent targets next summer.
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