Basketball Prospectus: Unfiltered Everything Else is Fluff.

November 1, 2008

Extension Decisions

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kevin Pelton @ 8:33 pm

Last night was the deadline for NBA teams to sign eligible players entering the final year of their rookie contracts to extensions or else have them become restricted free agents next summer. A few weeks ago, I broke down the extension market and did a decent job of putting players into categories of extension likelihood.

The only surprise amongst the extensions was Portland’s Martell Webster, whom I placed in the unlikely category. Danny Granger was the lone player I considered likely, and lo and behold he came to terms with the Pacers. Of the guys I considered 50-50 propositions, two signed (Andrew Bynum and Jason Maxiell) and three did not.

The extensions for Granger (a reported five years, $60 million) and Maxiell ($20 million over four years) seem pretty straightforward. The offseason set an average salary around $12 million as the going market for players of Granger’s ilk a bit below All-Star caliber, while Maxiell decided security was better than the chance of a longer and maybe slightly more lucrative deal as an RFA.

Bynum’s extension is complicated, naturally, by his recovery from knee surgery. Early in the season, Bynum has looked solid if not spectacular. He’s anchored a Lakers’ defense that has been very impressive thus far. The deal–a reported $60 million over four years, the last year at team option–gets Bynum his market value while limiting the risk to the Lakers by guaranteeing Bynum just three years. It seems like a reasonable deal for both sides.

That leaves the Webster deal, reported as similar to the one signed by Maxiell. If Webster has a breakthrough season, it could be a bargain. However, he’s amongst the least accomplished players ever signed to extensions. I would have favored waiting until season’s end to have a better sense of the direction of Webster’s development before committing to him, especially given the Blazers have eaten into their potential cap space at season’s end.

Below, Bradford asked to see Webster’s comps. Alas, they’re surprisingly good. While Webster’s high minutes totals at a young age have a lot to do with that, guys like Mike Miller and Joe Johnson were little or no more effective on a per-minute basis at the same age before developing into quality players.

Sim   Player                Year

97.9  Mike Miller          00-01
97.8  Joe Johnson          02-03
96.4  Ray Allen            96-97
96.3  Gerald Green         06-07
96.2  Tim Thomas           97-98
95.8  Peja Stojakovic      98-99
95.0  Andrea Bargnani      06-07
94.8  Jason Richardson     01-02
94.3  Dirk Nowitzki        99-00
93.7  Rashad McCants       05-06

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