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NBA AM: To Extend Or Not Extend?

It time to talk extensions for those rookie scale players drafted in 2011, should team lock them in now or wait for the market in July?… A new look for Deron Williams?

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To Extend Or Not To Extend?:  With NBA training camps opening at the end of next week for some teams, and the balance opening camp on September 29 there are a number of players hoping to get deals done.Those would be the members of the 2011 NBA Draft class. Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving already got his max money deal, and according to Sam Amick of USA Today Sports Warriors guard Klay Thompson hopes to be next at to receive max money trough 2020.

NBA teams have until October 31 to reach extensions with their 2011 rookie scale contract players, or risk exposing them to restricted free agency in July.

For the most part teams look at early extensions as a means to lock in a core player, usually on a deal just inside their possible market value. When you look at the deals that Warriors guard Steph Curry or Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday accepted two years ago, those are relatively value deals today, but seemed maybe a little pricey when they were agreed to.

Bulls forward Taj Gibson has outplayed his early rookie scale extension, as has Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan.

Hence the game of negotiations that will play out through training camp.

Agents are going to ask for the world; mainly because you can ask for anything you want, it does not mean you’ll get it. The other part is as many as 12 NBA teams could have $16 million or more in possible cap space next summer.

So, why take a discounted deal today with so much money available in July?

As a team, do you really want to have the top restricted free agent going into a summer where teams like the Lakers and Knicks could have $20 or more million to spend?

As a restricted free agent, a team always has the option to match a contract offer and sometimes that saves a team some money. Pacers’ big man Roy Hibbert wanted a five year extension in his early extensions talks; he ended up signing a four-year offer sheet with Portland with lower annual raises. Paying Hibbert the max was always sort of assumed; the Pacers got a little savings in letting someone else lower the raises and reduce the years through restricted free agency.

But going the restricted route isn’t always a smart move. If you look at what’s playing out in Phoenix with Eric Bledsoe and Detroit with Greg Monroe, both teams are likely losing their player after both played the restricted free agent market and are opting to take the qualifying offer.

The other part is the bid-up game teams play in efforts to try and steal a player. The most expensive player is someone else’s player. Jazz guard Gordon Hayward wasn’t worth max, he had played close to that level, but Charlotte wanted him and they were willing to pay a $2-$3 million premium to try and steal him away from Utah.

Chandler Parson wasn’t a max guy either, but the only way to pry him out of Houston was to pony up the extra money.

So with potentially 16 teams sitting on a huge chunk of change in July, and almost nothing in the unrestricted class worth buying, do you want to be the team that has to match a max offer sheet, or do you maybe come to the middle?

That’s what agents are hoping for. Several of the next tier guys, those guys that are clearly not max players are looking to make a deal. However, if a deal is not reached, it’s not the end of the world, it just might cost you more money in July.

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New Look For Deron Williams?:  Jason Kidd was supposed to be the answer for Nets guard Deron Williams troublesome Nets career. Kidd was hired as head coach last year under the belief he could reach Williams in ways other coaches simply could not. Prior to landing with the Nets Williams was a multi-time All-Star and voted by the general managers in the NBA as the top point guard in the game. Since arriving with the Nets, Williams has been a declining shell of the player he was in Utah.

Williams hopes this year will be different.

Williams underwent a couple of surgeries this summer to address the nagging ankle and foot injuries that have plagued him for the last couple of seasons.

“Anytime you can’t walk, you can’t run, you can’t jump, it’s hard to play basketball, especially in this league,” Williams said Andrew Keh of The New York Times. “The only thing I wish is that I would’ve gotten surgery earlier.”

From afar Williams’ struggles seemed to be bigger than just his ankles. He had put on weight. He had grown frustrated with himself and it showed on the floor. He wasn’t having any fun and his game and his team suffered for it.

With a new head coach in place in Lionel Hollins, more is going to be expected of Williams, but in a lot of different ways. The expectation level has come down around the team and Williams is coming into camp healthy for the first time in a while. Williams’ weight is down and he is attacking in practice and training sessions in ways he hasn’t for some time.

With Williams being somewhat written off, this might be the year he reclaims some ground on his status around the NBA. This might also be a chance for Williams to show a new look to the fans in Brooklyn that are still waiting for what the Nets paid $98 million for in 2012.

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Steve Kyler is the Editor and Publisher of Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA and basketball for the last 17 seasons.

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