The NBA’s 2019 contract extension period had one common theme: everyone took the money. In the four days leading up to the season’s tipoff, eight contracts were signed, with a handful of players signing more team-friendly deals than anticipated.
The causations of the active period are unclear. Maybe players said yes so quickly over anxiety about what the impact of the bottom line will be after the NBA’s debacle with China. Maybe players said yes after seeing what DeMarcus Cousins’ major injuries meant for his pockets. Regardless of their reason, players were not eager to test what will be a bleak summer 2020 free agency market.
Pascal Siakam, 4-year, $130 million extension
The Raptors are living high on the championship win nobody thought was possible a summer ago even after the Kawhi Leonard trade. Though they lost their best player in free agency, Siakam proved a worthy No. 2 with best-player-on-a-team upside. Last year, he averaged 17 points with seven rebounds on 37 percent three-point shooting. Without Leonard in the mix, those numbers are sure to skyrocket. Locking him up on a full max contract was more than any team wanted to pay for a player fresh off one breakout season. But if the Raptors didn’t pay him, somebody else would’ve.
For Siakam, this deal is a dream come true. From G League player to Most Improved Player of the Year to NBA champion to max contract multi-millionaire. Incredible.
Raptors grade: A
Siakam’s grade: A+
Jaylen Brown, 4-year, $103 million extension ($4 million in likely bonuses, $8 million in unlikely)
Brown’s extension was the most surprising of the week, with the Celtics investing a lot of money in what could be. The 22-year-old has shown flashes of brilliance, mostly on the defensive end through tumultuous times in Boston. The question is if he can turn into a consistently great player on both ends, especially with Gordon Hayward and Jayson Tatum both playing minutes at his preferred position. If not, that’s a lot of money for a role player.
For Brown, this is a tremendous deal that shows the Celtics believe he’s a serious piece for their future. The team losing Kyrie Irving and Al Horford in the same offseason puts them out of championship contention right now, but retooling with Kemba Walker and growing Tatum, Boston could be back there soon. And heck, even if they aren’t, that’s a lot of money.
Celtics grade: B-
Brown’s grade: A+
Buddy Hield, 4-year, $94 million extension (bonuses could reach $106 million)
The Kings locked down their first rookie scale contract extension since DeMarcus Cousins when they agreed to a deal with Hield, the centerpiece of the Cousins trade in 2017. The negotiations were messy, with Hield publicly stating his displeasure for the original offer, which, according to Yahoo, was four years and $90 million, while Hield was seeking $110 million. He went as far as to call the deal an “insult.” Ultimately, Sacramento won, getting closer to Hield’s preferred number in non-guaranteed money. Hield’s contract is a healthy one for the Kings. The sharpshooter is entering his prime, and even better for the team, the money is front-loaded, leaving room in the cap for the team to operate in years to come.
For Hield, the bickering to the media didn’t pay off in the way he’d hoped. Earning more than $23 million a year is still outstanding money, and probably a fair valuation for his talent at this point. But maybe he’d have gotten what he sought eight months from now. If he stayed healthy, of course.
Kings grade: A-
Hield’s grade: B
Bradley Beal, 2-year, $72 million extension
Beal’s extension was the climax of a months-long recruiting pitch to keep him in Washington. Ultimately the team sold him, at least partially, to stay in D.C. as the centerpiece of the franchise’s rebuild. This year, Wizards are expected to play Beal alongside young talents like 2018 No. 15 pick Troy Brown and 2019 No. 9 pick Rui Hachimura to see what the future could look like. They’re expected to be one of the worst teams in the league, but Beal knows this.
For Beal, this extension secures him another $72 million while also leaving him an out when the money will be at its highest. Beal will be a free agent in 2022 when he’ll have 10 years of service in the NBA, meaning he can sign a full max deal that could be worth north of $260 million. Aside from money, there’s still the chance John Wall could return healthy for the 2020-21 season, booting up a Wizards rebuild that much quicker.
Wizards grade: A-
Beal’s grade: B+
Domantas Sabonis, 4-year, $77 million extension (bonuses could reach $85 million)
The Pacers had a rocky week negotiating with Sabonis, as the team reportedly looked at trading the 23-year-old after failing to strike a deal. Ultimately, Sabonis took what was in front of him, securing $19 million per year. Indiana is taking a chance that Sabonis and Myles Turner, who signed a four-year extension last year, can play together. Sabonis nearly averaged a double-double with 14 points and nine boards last season. If this pairing fails, the team has avenues out, though. His contract is easily tradable to other contenders later in the season.
For Sabonis, this contract is a dice roll. He’s making a heckuva lot of money, but like Hield, he might’ve been able to secure more with another strong season. Playing at the four won’t be simple for him either, having to defend more versatile, hybrid players. And if things don’t work out next to Turner, his destiny is in Indiana’s hands.
Pacers grade: A
Sabonis’ grade: C
Dejounte Murray, 4-year, $64 million extension
An ACL injury cost Murray his entire 2018-19 season, and that cost him millions in this deal. Two years ago, Murray showed he was a starting point guard of the future, averaging eight points, six rebounds, three assists and a steal per game in just 22 minutes, taking the torch from Tony Parker by season’s end. But the injury took away what felt like an incoming breakout season, damaging his market value. The Spurs capitalized on that, securing a team-friendly deal which could be one of the best values in the league if Murray returns to form.
Murray likely agreed to this deal after seeing how quickly injuries can change a player’s life. The 23-year-old, still on a rookie contract, is yet to make life-altering money, and putting that at risk in pursuit of heftier contract could’ve yielded nothing at all. This deal is safe for Murray. And it also came within hours of a reported endorsement deal with New Balance. Murray has all the money he needs now, even if things go terribly wrong.
Spurs grade: A
Murray’s grade: B
Taurean Prince, 2-year, $29 million extension
The Nets’ deal with Prince secures an offensive talent through the beginning of his prime at a fair price tag. Prince will serve a big role this season with Kevin Durant out for the year, but even in a smaller role in 2021, he could prove to be an important supplementary piece for a championship team. This is a feel-out deal that’ll keep both sides satisfied. And it’s trade-able if things don’t work out.
For Prince, this is the biggest contract of his life and it’s game-changing money. He’ll get plenty of space to show what he’s worth this season, and if the Nets aren’t his preferred team in two years, he’ll be a 28-year-old free agent ready to lock down the biggest contract of his career anyway.
Nets grade: B
Prince’s grade: B+
Joe Ingles, 1-year, $14 million extension
The Jazz gave an additional year at the most money they could offer to one of the franchise’s most popular players. This is a make-nice deal for a very good player coming into one of the franchise’s most important seasons in recent memory. Utah is a contender after signing Mike Conley, and to keep morale high, Ingles got what he wanted. He’s now locked up through his age-33 season.
For Ingles, this extension secures a good amount of money at a time most players are in their career decline. It’s unlikely his play will be worth more than that valuation two years from now, so his proactiveness on the situation is likely to pay off.
Jazz grade: B
Ingles’ grade: A