Available Options & Extensions
By Eric Pincus
August is typically a vacation month for the NBA. Most free agent decisions have already been made (although a number are still available) and the trade market has all but ground to a halt. Teams will fill in the gaps throughout what’s left of the offseason but looking ahead, another key date looms . . . Halloween.
Opening night for the 2012/13 NBA Season falls on October 30 but it’s the following day that is the crucial time for players hoping to get their rookie contracts extended. Teams have until October 31 to issue extensions, and/or pick up the third or fourth-year options, to players picked in the first round who are still on their rookie contracts. Veterans can get extended any time up to the end of June but the deadline looms for players near the end of their initial deal.
The following players have been in the league for three seasons and are eligible for extensions. So far two from the class have already locked in deals – Blake Griffin (L.A. Clippers) and Serge Ibaka (Oklahoma City Thunder):
Atlanta Hawks – Jeff Teague
Charlotte Bobcats – Byron Mullens, Gerald Henderson
Chicago Bulls – Taj Gibson
Cleveland Cavaliers – Omri Casspi
Dallas Mavericks – Darren Collison, Rodrigue Beaubois
Denver Nuggets – Ty Lawson
Detroit Pistons – Austin Daye
Golden State Warriors – Stephen Curry
Houston Rockets – Toney Douglas
Indiana Pacers – Tyler Hansbrough
Memphis Grizzlies – Wayne Ellington
Milwaukee Bucks – Brandon Jennings
Oklahoma City Thunder – James Harden, Eric Maynor
Philadelphia 76ers – Jrue Holiday
Sacramento Kings – Tyreke Evans, James Johnson
San Antonio Spurs – Tiago Splitter
Toronto Raptors – DeMar DeRozan
The big name to watch is James Harden. The Thunder appear committed to keeping the core that advance to the NBA Finals together but will they let the market dictate the price next summer or lock in a deal before November that means luxury taxes for years to come?
Subjectively, players who should get extensions include Gibson, Lawson, Curry, Jennings, Holiday and Harden. With future cap room a consideration, the Hawks and Mavericks are better suited to wait on Teague and Collison.
The next group of players has two years’ experience. They’re not eligible yet for long-term extensions, so it becomes a question of continuing investment:
Boston Celtics – Avery Bradley
Dallas Mavericks – Dominique Jones
Detroit Pistons – Greg Monroe
Houston Rockets – Patrick Patterson
Indiana Pacers – Paul George
L.A. Clippers – Eric Bledsoe
Memphis Grizzlies – Quincy Pondexter
Milwaukee Bucks – Ekpe Udoh, Larry Sanders
New Orleans Hornets – Al-Farouq Aminu, Xavier Henry, Greivis Vasquez
Oklahoma City Thunder – Cole Aldrich, Lazar Hayward
Orlando Magic – Christian Eyenga
Philadelphia 76ers – Evan Turner
Phoenix Suns – Wesley Johnson
Portland Trail Blazers – Luke Babbitt, Elliot Williams
Sacramento Kings – DeMarcus Cousins
Toronto Raptors – Ed Davis
Utah Jazz – Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward
Washington Wizards – John Wall, Kevin Seraphin, Trevor Booker, Jordan Crawford
Many are mere formalities. Expect Wall, Monroe, Cousins, Favors, Bradley, Patterson, George, Bledsoe, Turner, and G. Hayward without a thought.
Other’s like Pondexter, Vasquez, Seraphin, Booker and Crawford are probable. Given the Mavericks’ aim to maximize cap room, Jones may not make the cut. Have players like Aldrich, L. Hayward, Aminu, etc. shown enough to get another year? Is Davis worth paying $3.2 million to the Raptors? Does Eyenga’s potential justify another $2.1 million on the Magic’s dime?
Johnson is a tricky case for the Suns, given his option is for $5.4 million. He may flourish in Phoenix but he if he does, he’d be significantly limiting the team’s spending power under the cap next summer.
After two seasons with a player, teams may have a better feel for how well he’s progressing. For third-year options, quick decisions need to be made on players who are just off of their rookie season.
Brooklyn Nets – MarShon Brooks
Charlotte Bobcats – Kemba Walker, Bismack Biyombo
Chicago Bulls – Jimmy Butler
Cleveland Cavaliers – Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson
Denver Nuggets – Kenneth Faried, Jordan Hamilton
Detroit Pistons – Brandon Knight
Golden State Warriors – Klay Thompson
Houston Rockets – Marcus Morris, JuJuan Johnson
Miami HEAT – Norris Cole
Milwaukee Bucks – Tobias Harris
Minnesota Timberwolves – Derrick Williams, Ricky Rubio
New York Knicks – Iman Shumpert
Oklahoma City Thunder – Reggie Jackson
Orlando Magic – Nikola Vucevic
Phoenix Suns – Markieff Morris
Portland Trail Blazers – Nolan Smith
Sacramento Kings – Jimmer Fredette
San Antonio Spurs – Kawhi Leonard, Cory Joseph
Utah Jazz – Enes Kanter, Alec Burks
Washington Wizards – Jan Vesely, Chris Singleton
It would probably take a compelling reason to give up on a prospect so quickly, be it external (cap room) or internal (work ethic, personality).
Once again, it’s an easy decision for players like Irving, Rubio, Faried, Knight, Brooks, Walker, Biyombo, K. & T. Thompson, Cole, Harris, Williams, Shumpert, Markieff Morris, Leonard, Kanter, Butler and Burks.
The Magic just traded for Vucevic and will likely take his option. Fredette hasn’t lived up to the hype yet in Sacramento, but even if they look to trade him, he’s more valuable with the option taken than without. Do the Rockets invest another year in Johnson, given the existing roster glut?
Even the remaining names are more likely than not to get another year, even if they haven’t show much in games just yet (Hamilton, Jackson, Smith, etc.).
Full 2013 NBA Class of Free Agents
For the entire list of potential free agents next summer, check out the HOOPSWORLD breakdown. The list is comprehensive, including the option players who will likely never hit the market, unrestricted free agents, and players with non/partially-guaranteed salary.
The top of the class includes unrestricted free agents Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, Andrew Bynum, Josh Smith, Al Jefferson, Manu Ginobili, Kevin Martin, Stephen Jackson, David West, Paul Millsap, Lamar Odom and Chris Kaman.