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NBA PM: Kenneth Faried’s Payday is Coming

After a strong close to the 2013-14 season and an impressive summer so far, Kenneth Faried has a big payday coming his way.

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Kenneth Faried’s Payday is Coming

So far in the 2014 FIBA World Cup, Team USA is 3-0 with a 35.6 point average margin of victory. They did have a little bit of a scare against Turkey recently and their toughest challenges are ahead with teams out of their group like Australia, Greece and Spain in particular really looking formidable. However, there’s no doubting now that despite the absence of some of the NBA’s biggest stars, a team capable of winning the gold has still been put together.

The depth of Team USA’s talent pool has been on full display. Anthony Davis and James Harden have taken over the leadership roles in place of Kevin Durant and Kevin Love, who opted not to play after originally considering it. This comes as no surprise. Davis is a former No. 1 overall pick who is coming off of his best year as a professional and was already on the fast track to stardom prior to the start of the tournament. Harden has been one of the best shooting guards in the league since being traded to the Houston Rockets two years ago and he came into the tournament highly motivated after an early exit from the 2014 NBA playoffs and wide-ranging criticism about his defense.

KennethFariedInsideOnly1Somewhat surprisingly, though, is the fact that up to this point Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried has been the third best player on a Team USA squad that also features Derrick Rose, Kyrie Irving and Stephen Curry among other more proven NBA players.

Faried is averaging 14.3 points and 8.3 rebounds while shooting a blistering 80 percent from the field, which leads all players in the World Cup. He’s become a fixture in the starting lineup and one of the most important players on the team.

All this from someone who wasn’t given a serious shot by most to make the team at the outset of training camp.

Defying the odds and exceeding expectations is nothing new for Faried, who was unranked nationally out of high school and had little college interest outside of Morehead State, where he went on to be one of the best power forwards in college basketball for the next four years. Faried averaged a double-double from his sophomore year on after coming up two rebounds a game shy his freshman year of averaging one then as well. He finished with 2,009 career points and 1,673 career rebounds, yet there were a lot of questions about how well he would translate to the NBA that pushed him down the draft board on draft night 2011. He measured in at 6’6 without shoes, didn’t have much perceived upside as a senior and was regarded as somewhat limited offensively.

That led to Derrick Williams, Enes Kanter, Tristan Thompson, Jan Vesely, Bismack Biyombo, Jimmer Fredette, Alec Burks, the Morris twins, Chris Singleton and Nolan Smith all being drafted ahead of him as he fell to the Nuggets at 22.

Three season removed from that draft, it’s safe to say Faried was one of the biggest steals and vastly underrated. He’s been a more than solid pickup for the Nuggets, boasting a career average of 12.1 points and 8.6 rebounds in 26.5 minutes a night, but during the final two months of last season he showed the potential to be a premiere starter in this league, averaging 19.2 points and 9.8 rebounds in March and 21 points and 13 rebounds in April.

Picking up where he left off in the regular season with Team USA this summer is the best-case scenario for Faried because it comes in the midst of contract extension negotiations with the Nuggets, who have made it abundantly clear that they would like to get a deal done with him and view him as a long-term centerpiece.

“We’ll talk to his representation,” Nuggets general manager Tim Connelly told Chris Dempsey of The Denver Post. “I think Kenneth is happy here. I think he’s really embraced what (Coach) Brian (Shaw) is trying to instill. Those are the type of guys that deserve to get paid.”

“Kenneth was great,” Connelly added. “I think there was an adjustment period with Kenneth and Brian. And for the last couple of months he was playing at as high a level as anybody. He’s the heart and soul of our team. His consistent energy and toughness, I was really happy to see. I think he grew this year. I think he really improved on both ends, not just the offensive end. He’s a guy that’s going to play a huge role in our success moving forward.

“I’m hopeful that we’ll have good discussions this summer with his representation and we’ll see if we can’t figure something out.”

According to Zach Lowe of Grantland, the Nuggets have already reached out to Faried’s agent about a contract extension. Because they have his Bird rights, he’s eligible for roughly a five-year, $89.1 million extension from them, which averages out to about $17.82 million a year. That figure stands to change about $3-5 million over its duration due to a likely increase in the cap for the 2015-16 NBA season, when the extension would begin.

The Nuggets and Faried have until October 31 to try and negotiate an extension, otherwise they will put talks off until next summer when a $3.2 million qualifying offer will make him a restricted free agent and preserve the Nuggets’ right to match any offer he receives. Faried would be eligible to receive a deal somewhere in the neighborhood of $66.2 million over four years, which is $16.55 annually.

As good as Faried has been in his NBA career so far, especially in the last two months and with Team USA this summer, a max offer isn’t going to come his way unless he puts up 20-10 regularly next season. The question is, are the Nuggets willing to come close enough to a max offer to make it financially rewarding enough for Faried to commit early and avoid free agency all together?

At this point, the deals that Larry Sanders and Derrick Favors have can be looked at as the absolute floor for a Faried deal. Sanders’ deal pays him $44 million over the course of four years, while Favors is making $12.25 on average in his four-year deal that goes into effect this season. So, if the floor is $11-12.25 million and the ceiling is $17.82 – that’s roughly a five million gap that the two sides have to negotiate with. Of course, Faried’s contract will likely be structured with the annual 7.5 percent raises and ascend rather than having a flat rate across the board, but a deal that works for both sides is definitely achievable before the deadline given Faried’s market value and marked improvement.

The last time the Nuggets were in a similar position was with Ty Lawson. Lawson was coming off of his rookie contract, earned a significant raise and although it took right up until the deadline, the two sides were eventually able to agree to terms before restricted free agency ever came into play. Lawson’s deal was for four years, $48 million and currently has him as the highest paid player on the team at $11.595 million going into next season.

A deal with Faried will likely exceed that and make him the highest paid player on the team, but as the Nuggets’ decision makers indicated, he’s the kind of guy you can feel comfortable paying because of the way he works and the example he sets with how hard he plays. He has the necessary leadership qualities to be a team’s highest paid player.

With JaVale McGee having two years, $23.25 million left on his deal, Danilo Gallinari having two years, $22.4 million left on his and Arron Afflalo having a player option for $7.5 million that he will strongly consider declining for a bigger, long-term deal, the Nuggets have some tough decisions coming up and some cuts they’re likely going to have to make. Faried isn’t one of them, though. Even at a price tag of $14 million per over five years (assuming that’s what it would take to keep him), he’s worth locking up early and building around along with Lawson.

Preseason International Schedule Increases

The NBA announced today that three top international teams, Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv, Maccabi Haifa and Flamengo, will travel to the U.S. and Canada for nine preseason games against nine NBA teams this October.  The nine games are the most ever played by international teams on North American soil during one preseason.

The games will tip off with Maccabi Tel Aviv taking on the Cleveland Cavaliers on Oct. 5 at Quicken Loans Arena, followed by a matchup with the Brooklyn Nets on Oct. 7 at Barclays Center.

Flamengo, which plays its home games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, will play the Phoenix Suns on Oct. 8 at US Airways Center and the Orlando Magic on Oct. 15 at Amway Center.  Flamengo concludes its trip against the Memphis Grizzlies on Oct. 17 at FedExForum.

Maccabi Haifa, which plays its home games in Haifa, Israel, begins its trip versus the Washington Wizards on Oct. 15 at Verizon Center, followed by a game against the Portland Trail Blazers on Oct. 17 at Moda Center and a game against the Sacramento Kings on Oct. 18 at Sleep Train Arena.  Maccabi Haifa concludes its trip with an Oct. 22 game against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre.

Maccabi Tel Aviv is the reigning Euroleague champion, having defeated Real Madrid under the leadership of current Cleveland Cavaliers Head Coach David Blatt.  With six European Championships, one Adriatic Championship, 51 Israeli Championships, 41 Israeli Cups, and five League Cups, Maccabi Tel Aviv is one of the most successful teams in the history of European basketball.  Maccabi Tel Aviv has played 20 games against NBA teams and was the first European club to compete against an NBA team, defeating the 1978 NBA champion Washington Bullets in Tel Aviv.

Maccabi Haifa is the reigning Super League runner-up and defeated Maccabi Tel Aviv to win the 2012-13 Super League Championship, the club’s first championship since its founding in 1953.  Maccabi Haifa’s trip to the United States will mark the fourth time in five years the team has traveled to the United States to play NBA teams, most recently during the 2013 preseason when the club took on the Phoenix Suns, Detroit Pistons and Memphis Grizzlies.

On March 22, 2014, Flamengo defeated Pinheiros to win the 2014 FIBA Americas League championship.  In May, Flamengo defeated Paulistano to win its third Novo Basquete Brasil (NBB) title.  NBB is Brazil’s premier professional men’s basketball league.  Flamengo will play in the 2014 Intercontinental Cup in Rio de Janeiro in September, where the team will face Maccabi Tel Aviv.  Flamengo’s visit to Phoenix on Oct. 8 will mark the team’s first game against NBA competition.

These games complement the existing NBA Global Games 2014-15 schedule, which includes nine NBA teams playing seven games in six countries (seven cities).

During the 2013-14 regular season, the NBA featured a record 92 international players from 39 countries and territories on official rosters (active and inactive).

Yannis Koutroupis is Basketball Insiders' Managing Site Editor and Senior Writer. He has been covering the NBA and NCAA for seven years.

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