Some words on the extensions signed in the last few days to beat the deadline:
- I have all ready written enough about James Harden in the last week. Harden, unless he regresses, is worth the max - which in this case is about 5 years and $80 million (all numbers approximate, as always.) I do have questions as to why Houston decided to give Harden a five year deal as opposed to four. My assumption is because they are sure of him. Personally, I would have only given him four years - that's less money owed if something goes wrong.
A guaranteed fifth year at about $18 million seems a bit much for someone who has been a sixth man most of his career, and seemingly still has to prove if he can be a truly elite #1 or #2 option. Giving Harden five years also prohibits the Rockets from giving out another big five year contract to someone in the future. Houston must feel certain they have a true star; his performance in his first game seems auspicious.
- Ty Lawson's 4 year, $48 million extension is a very good deal for Denver. Lawson remains somewhat underrated - he is an excellent point guard who has always put up solid numbers, and still seems to be steadily improving. He has had no significant injury concerns in his career, and this deal will cover him during some of his prime years.
What I am getting at is that Lawson probably is worth the max a team would have offered him next Summer, and the Nuggets are lucky it did not come to that point. This is a good example of why a team should try to sign restricted players early - to save money. It makes much less sense when the team saves no money by signing a restricted player very early in the process - like the Clippers did with Blake Griffin's new deal.
- Stephen Curry's four year, $44 million deal with Golden State is much different than Lawson's, although the numbers look about the same. That is because a serious ankle injury caused Curry to miss 40 games last year, and there is major concern as to whether Curry's body can hold up over the next five years.
When healthy, Curry is a max player, and a semi-valid argument can be made that he is possibly even the best player from the entire class of '09. The only other player in the league with a comparable blend of shooting and passing mastery is Steve Nash. Despite being a subpar defender, a healthy Curry is definitely worth a four year max contract.
So you can see why Golden State wanted to get this deal done now - it could hypothetically save them about $15 million over the life of the contract. But we should think about the other angle here - if Curry is once again seriously hurt this season, and misses many games, would any team be foolish enough to offer him a max deal? I doubt it.
Essentially the Warriors are assuming Curry will be generally healthy this season. They have seen the medical information, so they have a far better idea than I as to whether that is possible. One has to believe that they feel highly confident that Curry will play 65+ games in '12-13. But if they didn't feel strongly about Curry's health, they should have just waited till next Summer. Paying a few million dollars more a year for a great player is better than paying $11 million annually to a talented guy who hardly plays because of injuries. I hope Curry is the former, not the latter.
- Jrue Holiday's 4 year, $41 million extension with Philadelphia is excessive, unless Holiday finally makes the leap and turns into an above average starting point guard. I am doubtful that will happen. Despite being only 22, and having had a perfectly decent start to his career, Holiday has never consistently displayed the offensive virtuosity to be worth eight figures annually. A good defender, Holiday really needs to improve offensively. Otherwise there are too many similar point guards providing almost the same value as Holiday at a far lower price.
- Demar DeRozan's 4 year, $40 million extension with Toronto is easily the most shocking deal of the bunch, and makes most fans wonder yet again how Bryan Colangelo can still be gainfully employed. DeRozan, in short, is just not that good a NBA player, and there has been no indications that he will ever dramatically improve. This deal might beat Jeff Green's as the stupidest long-term deal of the year. Like Green, DeRozan could get significantly better - and still not be near All-Star level. A terrible move by Toronto, which they will regret mightily.
- Taj Gibson's extension with Chicago is for at least $34 million over four years. I probably would not have done this deal if I were the Bulls. Gibson is a very nice player, a great defender, and I can definitely see why Chicago wanted to lock him up, as some team probably would have offered Gibson more money next Summer. But I don't see Gibson as a star, and I think long, expensive deals should only go to players who are at least borderline stars.
Gibson could get better, and be worth every penny of his new deal, but the first thing that needs to happen is for him to play more. Like Omer Asik, Gibson has to prove he can provide similar production with an increased workload. As long as Gibson stays healthy, this is an acceptable deal for Chicago, but personally I would not have done it.