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NBA early extensions: Who else gets paid like John Wall?

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The 2010 NBA Draft class is ready for its second round of contracts. What can history tell us, and how does it apply to the incoming fourth-year pros?


The deadline for early extensions for the 2010 draft class is still three months away, but teams are already seeking to give out new contracts to their young stars. The Wizards wasted no time in locking up John Wall with a five-year maximum extension on Wednesday, and the Kings and DeMarcus Cousins are also having preliminary discussions on a new deal.

Good players rarely change cities after their rookie contract expires, but there's still real incentive for teams not to hesitate on extensions. Stephen Curry agreed to a four-year, $44 million extension just before the deadline last season, a deal that now looks like one of the league's best bargains for the Warriors. It's clear Curry would have been in line for a maximum contract should he have reached restricted free agency.

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Still, for every deal as team-friendly as Curry's, there's one like DeMar DeRozan's. The Raptors inked the swingman for $40 million over four years prior to last year's deadline, a contract that looks like an overpay now.

The class of 2010 will be the third draft class to receive extensions under the new CBA. Looking at the second contracts signed by the last two draft classes shows what to expect this time around.

Expect negotiations to go right up the deadline

Of the seven players from the class of 2009 who received early extensions, only No. 1 pick Blake Griffin signed during the summer. The rest went right up to the Oct. 31 deadline.

There's no reason to get anxious if it sounds like your favorite team is miles apart in contract discussions with their class of 2010 player. Deadlines exist as an impetus to get things moving. Here's what Jrue Holiday's agent told the media two days before his client signed a four-year, $41 million extension:

"We've had conversations, but I don't feel like any progress has been made," Tony Dutt told USA Today Sports on Monday of the talks with the Sixers. "We haven't talked in a while."

It makes sense from the perspective of each side to play hardball until a certain point. But in the end, it's awfully hard on the player's end to turn down, say, $40 million in hopes of getting another $10 million or so a year from now. You know all about the injuries that plagued star players last season and don't need to be reminded.

Top picks get paid

The Wizards were quick to offer the five-year max to Wall, and pundits were even quicker to question it. Wall underwhelmed in his second season and missed 33 games mostly due to a knee injury to begin his third season, but he closed the year averaging 22.7 points on 46.5 percent shooting to go along with 7.8 assists.

The debate has raged over whether or not Wall is indeed a max player, but a look at history suggests his draft position might have determined it as much as anything. Derrick Rose (No. 1 in 2008) and Blake Griffin (No. 1 in 2009) each signed max extensions in the summer. Yes, Rose was coming off a season in which he became the youngest MVP in league history, and Griffin had deservingly been named to the All-Star Game in every season of his career. But selecting a player No. 1 overall and signing that player to an early extension both require a certain leap of faith, so it's no surprise the Wizards are investing in Wall like he's the franchise player they thought they drafted in 2010.

It's purely hypothetical, but how much would Wall be getting if were drafted, say, No. 17 instead of No. 1? That's where Holiday was taken in 2009, and the numbers between he and Wall don't look too different. In Holiday's age 22 season (granted, with one more year of pro experience than Wall), he averaged 17.7 points, eight assists and 4.2 rebounds per game on 43 percent shooting from the field and 36.8 percent shooting from deep. At the same age last season, Wall put up 18.5 points, 7.6 assists and four rebounds on 44.1 percent shooting and 26.7 shooting from three.

Wall's about to sign for nearly twice as much guaranteed money as Holiday. It's always good to get picked early.

Size gets paid

It's generally accepted that big men take longer to develop, but that doesn't mean they're getting the shaft on early extensions. Size will forever be at a premium. The Pacers learned this lesson the hard way with Roy Hibbert.

The Pacers and Hibbert were unable to reach an extension two summers ago, which left the center to become a restricted free agent the next season. The Portland Trail Blazers, desperate to use their cap space to pair LaMarcus Aldridge next to a true center, threw a four-year, $58 million offer sheet at Hibbert that many considered pricey at the time. The Pacers matched because there simply aren't many worthy big men in the league.

Hibbert's struggles in the regular season (11.9 points per game on 44.8 percent shooting) made it look like a grave error on Indiana's part, but he would redeem himself in the postseason. The Miami Heat didn't have anyone to match up with Hibbert, and the center averaged 22.1 points and 10.4 rebounds per game on 55.7 percent shooting from the floor. Now, no one would say Hibbert's overpaid.

Fail to reach an extension with a big man, and you're risking another team throwing a major offer at him a season from now.

* * *

All of this applies to the class of 2010, too. By my count, there are nine or 10 players who could be in line to receive extensions before the Nov. 1 deadline.

John Wall: It's a done deal. Wall will get the five-year max.

Derrick Favors: Maybe the most interesting case among the class of 2010. Favors has been stuck behind Al Jefferson and Paul Milsap on Utah's depth chart the last two seasons, but has posted impressive efficiency numbers whenever he's on the court. The historical precedent would seem to be Serge Ibaka, who signed a four-year, $48 million extension with the Thunder just before last season's deadline. If a deal with Favors isn't reached, a team could easily throw a maximum-contract deal at him in free agency if he shines in a larger role with the Jazz next season.

DeMarcus Cousins: Tom Ziller explained the case for a maximum extension for Boogie last week.

Greg Monroe: The Pistons' front court is suddenly loaded after the team signed Josh Smith in free agency, but there's still a place for a skilled big man like Monroe. Detroit may wait to see how Monroe and Andre Drummond work together before locking him up to an extension, but it's another case where hesitation may cost the team millions.

When JaVale McGee gets $44 million in free agency, you know Monroe will see big money. But how much? The Pistons would probably love to get him to sign for the Ibaka deal, but Monroe might be able to see the max should he decide to roll the dice in restricted free agency.

Gordon Hayward: Hayward's per 36 stats weren't terribly different from Paul George's last season. Here's how the two class of 2010 draftees measured up in their third seasons:

Per 36 production Points FG% Rebounds Assists 3P%
Paul George 16.7 41.9 7.3 4.0 36.2
Gordon Hayward 17.4 43.5 3.8 3.6 41.5

And while George's big postseason drew rave reviews, the Pacers wing only raised his scoring average by one tenth of a point per 36 minutes. George is great, but maybe Hayward could be too with the added minutes he's bound to see this year for the Jazz. Would the same four-year, $40 million contract DeRozan got from the Raptors look so bad for Hayward?

Paul George: He's expected to get the same five-year maximum contract Wall got, and even Wall knows it.

Larry Sanders: Sanders broke out in Milwaukee last season by finishing second in the league in blocks. His next contract presents a unique challenge because he doesn't score much, only averaging 9.8 points on an impressive 50.6 percent shooting last season.

Taj Gibson's four-year, $36 million extension would seem to be a good barometer here, but Gibson is merely a role player for the Bulls while Sanders might be the face of Milwaukee's franchise. The Bucks will probably try to lock him up before restricted free agency with a deal between Gibson's and Ibaka's.

Eric Bledsoe: An offseason trade to Phoenix took Bledsoe out of Chris Paul's shadow in LA. He simply hasn't received the minutes in his career to really show his worth, but the Suns could very well try to lock him up before he reaches restricted free agency. Bledsoe is extremely athletic and defends like hell, but struggles to shoot from the outside. Where does that put him? Bledsoe isn't nearly as accomplished going into his fourth season as Ty Lawson, who signed a four-year, $48 million contract, or Holiday. This one will be interesting.

Avery Bradley and Greivis Vásquez are two other players who could get re-upped before the Nov. 1 deadline, but each are likely to head to restricted free agency. The Celtics are in full rebuild mode and probably won't lock in any money long-term until they've thought hard about it. Vásquez is set to begin his first season as a member of the Kings, but he'll be competing with Isaiah Thomas, Jimmer Fredette and Ray McCallum.

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