NBA AM: Extending The 2009 Draft Class
Six Days To Reach A Deal: With just six days remaining for players drafted in 2009 to reach a contract extension with their existing teams, some players are closing in on deals or are close enough to think a deal is going to happen, however some players aren’t feeling the lover and are likely headed for a trip through free agency next July, likely as a restricted free agent.
Here are the notable names and where things stand:
James Harden – Oklahoma City
Harden and the Thunder seem like they are going to reach a deal. Sources close to the situation say there is such a desire by Harden to end the speculation that he may cave on his max contract demands. What’s been said is that a heavily incentivized deal would be what gets it done, and that kind of deal could get Harden to max money if the Thunder continues to dominate in the West. The NBA counts “easy to achieve” incentives against the cap, however, incentives that are deemed hard to achieve, like making the Conference Finals or being named an All-Star do not count against the cap. This could be the loophole that gets Harden signed, simply because of how good the Thunder have been in the West. A deal isn’t a deal until both sides sign it and get it approved by the league, but there appears to be a real desire on all sides to end the circus that Harden’s impending free agency is causing and it seems the Thunder and their ownership are willing to lock James up now.
Tyreke Evans – Sacramento Kings
It’s not looking good for Tyreke Evans and an extension. That does not mean he’s out in Sacramento, but what it does mean is it’s more likely that Tyreke gets a qualifying offer in July and the Kings see what his value is on the open market. It’s also not out of the question that the Kings try and trade Evans before the Feb. 21 deadline. Sources close to the process say that either way could play out; it is all about what the Kings are offered for Evans. The belief around the team is that management does not view Evans as a franchise guy for them, and while they like him and hope for big things this year from him, they are not sold he’s someone they will invest major money in, meaning an extension, unless its heavily in Sacramento’s favor is unlikely. The Kings did explore trades involving Evans around the draft, so believing they’d lock him up now is a little unreasonable. Sources close to Evans says he’d welcome the idea of free agency if only to find a situation that believes in him as a player. Kings coach Keith Smart continues to say he expects big things from Tyreke this season, so his future, especially in Sacramento is likely tied to this season.
Stephen Curry – Golden State Warriors
Both sides of this have agreed to table extension talks simply because Curry has been unable to get and stay healthy. Sources close to the situation say the team is not giving up on Curry in anyway, it’s simply hard to value Curry fairly because of the injuries. Curry has said he’d love to have the security of a contract extension but understands why the Warriors want to wait. One source said that the team is going to keep Curry long-term; the question becomes does that happen through restricted free agency or simply a smaller term deal next summer after the season plays out. Curry has already injured his surgically repaired ankle this preseason, so there continues to be doubt on how much the Warrior can and will invest in Steph, but both sides are saying this is simply smart business and that it has nothing at all to do with how the team feels about Curry, it’s really just about establishing a market value and the Warriors are not going to bid against themselves, so it’s unlikely that a deal gets done before the deadline meaning Steph Curry will get a Qualifying Offer in July and take a stroll through restricted free agency.
DeMar DeRozan – Toronto Raptors
Much like Tyreke Evans and Steph Curry, the Raptors and DeRozan are unlikely to make a deal. Sources say the subject has been discussed a few times, but a trip through restricted free agency is more likely than a deal. The Raptors like DeMar and believe in him, but sources say the idea of overpaying DeMar isn’t something the team is willing to do and that letting the market set his price as a restricted free agent is more likely. The Raptors are looking for a big leap from DeRozan this season before they are willing to really engage on what his future value really is. If DeRozan plateaus or worse yet regresses, it’s likely the Raptors explore his trade value rather than sink $9 to $10 million a season into DeMar. Restricted free agency seems like a lock for DeMar and his future in Toronto looks like it’s tied to a strong season this year.
Brandon Jennings – Milwaukee Bucks
Brandon’s agent said recently that Milwaukee hasn’t even presented an offer to Brandon on a new deal, which is not surprising. Virtually everyone in Milwaukee is on on the final year of their deal from the front office to the coaching staff to a large number of the players. It seems ownership has drawn the line for this group that making the playoffs has to happen or major change is coming. Sources close to the process say that Jennings is far from secure in Milwaukee and that trading him has come up a number of times but the team has yet to find an offer they’d do. With talks all but non-existent on an extension its more likely that Jennings is headed for restricted free agency if he isn’t traded before the Feb. 21 trade deadline. A lot of that will be based on how consistent he can be this season and whether he can be part of a team headed to the post-season. If it’s the same up and down Bucks squad that struggles to be consistent, trading Jennings could be very likely.
Jrue Holiday – Philadelphia 76ers
Holiday and the 76ers have had numerous conversations about an extension; the problem is they are miles apart on a value. Sources close to the process say Holiday has been offered a deal in the $9 million per year rang and his camp has turned that away. The belief is that with so few impact guards available in free agency and the way money was thrown around this summer that if Jrue can make the big jump the 76ers expect he can get his free agent value significantly higher than $9 million per season. The 76ers will issue a Qualifying Offer in July if they cannot reach a deal this week, so they’ll have the chance to match anything Jrue is offered, so unless the 76ers radically increase their offer, Jrue is headed through free agency and the 76ers might have to risk a guard starved team throwing a killer offer his way and being forced to match.
Ty Lawson – Denver Nuggets
Like Holiday, the Nuggets and Lawson have talked numerous times about a deal. Word is they are really not that far apart on an agreement and an extension for Lawson could happen. Lawson recently told HOOPSWORLD he expected a deal before the deadline and that he really does want to stay in Denver. Like Holiday, however, there is a reality that a large number of guard-starved teams will have cap money and forcing Denver’s hand through restricted free agency is a possibility. Nuggets sources say that Denver GM Masai Ujiri has been looking at creative ways to bridge the gap with Lawson that could include incentives like the Thunder are doing with James Harden. Both sides of this want to reach a deal so it is likely Lawson gets locked up before the deadline.
Taj Gibson – Chicago Bulls
The Bulls do not want another Omer Asik situation, but at the same time they are so far up against the tax that they have to play this smartly. Taj wants to make a deal and it seems the Bulls do too. Extending Taj all but ends the run for Carlos Boozer, so the Bulls have to factor that cost into what they do for Taj. Gibson’s camp is not giving a home team discount, but at the same time they know Taj likes the situation in Chicago and wants to stay there. Sources say a deal is more likely than not, although much like James Harden until something is signed, its not done and a trip through restricted free agency is possible, although it does not seem like the Bulls want to be in that situation with Taj. Both sides want a deal, so that generally leads to something happening before the deadline.
If teams do not reach a deal with their rookie deal players before Oct. 31, they always have the option of extending a qualifying offer in July and making them restricted free agents. So failing to reach a deal or opting to not make a deal does not mean much in the grand scheme except that there is risk that a team with cap space puts out a major offer, but the home team still has the right to match if the Qualifier was extended and typically that means smaller raises and a shorter contract, so in many ways letting a guy his free agency as a restricted player can save dollars especially over the life of a deal.
15 By Monday: NBA teams have got to get down to 15 players by Monday and some of those roster cuts have already started to take place. Most teams bring 20 guys into camp with the intention of keeping roughly 14 of them.
NBA teams can carry a maximum of 15 players and a minimum of 13 players. Only 13 players can dress for any given game. A lot of team like to keep an extra roster spot in the vent of a player being waived that they covet or in the event of an injury, they have the flexibility to add without having to cut someone.
There are generally two schools of thought on what players ultimately get cut from camp rosters. Players with non-guaranteed contracts because they cost nothing against the cap or in some cases teams cut players they know other teams may claim.
The Orlando Magic recently cut former first round pick Christian Eyenga, he is guaranteed more than $1.1 million that the Magic will eat if another team does not claim him through the waiver process. Christian can play and there is a belief a few teams have interest. If another team claims Eyenga off of waivers the Magic are off the hook for his $1.1 million salary.
Most teams will try to get to 14 players over the next few days, which mean a lot of fringe guys are playing for either their roster spot now, or auditioning for another team after they get cut.
The NBA regular season gets under way on Tuesday the 30th. Final regular season roster must be into the league office no later than 5pm EST on Monday the 29th.
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