NBA AM: To Extend Or Not Extend The 2014 Draft Class

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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.

Jabari Parker

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.

Joel Embiid

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.

Aaron Gordon

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.

Marcus Smart

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.

Julius Randle

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.

Rodney Hood

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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