Sources Predict Rookie NBA Extension Payment Days for Paul, Barrett, Hero and Others | News, results, highlights, stats and rumours

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    Jordan Paul. (Mark Blanch/NBAE via Getty Images)

    The number of NBA players signing extensions from their start-up deals has been on the rise since 2017 when only five of the 30 players in the first round of the 2014 NBA Draft found expensive new deals. The 2015 draft class only saw five players extend from the first round in the summer of 2018, but that number doubled in 2019 when 10 eligible players signed extensions from their start-up deals. Nine players followed from the 2017 draft class in 2020, before 11 players from the 2018 draft found extension agreements ahead of the 2021-22 season.

    Keldon Johnson, ranked No. 29 in the 2019 draft, agreed to a four-year, $80 million extension with San Antonio Friday night. It was the fourth pick for the first round of the 2019 class who had already signed a second deal with the club that drafted it.

    Who will be next to follow Johnson? And how does the potential for trade between Kevin Durant and Donovan Mitchell affect the many players eligible for the extension? The following breakdowns highlight the more interesting starter extension dynamics still in play.

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    Jordan Paul (Michael Orakami/Getty Images)

    Such a rise in extension signings at the league level has been attributed by NBA people to various reasons. Most Popular: With more and more money pouring into basketball-related income in the NBA, teams’ rising salary caps have prompted many agents to urge their players to sign now, ensuring life-changing money rather than risking the unknown.

    On the other side of this risk equation, there have been fewer and fewer cases where front offices are betting that their player won’t become more expensive by the time it hits the open market the following summer. No team, for example, wants to find itself where the Dallas Mavericks stood out of the season with Jalen Bronson, even though the Knicks’ new starting point guard was a selection for the second round.

    The extension issue for Warriors guard Jordan Paul could be the toughest of all the first round runs of 2019. Paul took a huge leap during his third season in Golden State, turning into a deadly league top scorer on the Championship team after seeing a significant time in the G League when he was a freshman in Second Year.

    Strategically, Golden State has every financial incentive to allow Paul to play his fourth year without a new deal framework. Unlike Bronson, Paul will enter next summer as a restricted free agent.

    And if he repeats or even improves his stunning production in 2022-23, Warriors likely won’t take their eyes off Paul’s reward with the maximum deal, cementing the bridge of privilege in the post-Steve Curry era.

    If Paul retracts — or simply establishes himself as a strong rookie player rather than an all-star emerging — Golden State may be able to find a deal closer to Anfernee Simons’ $100 million four-year deal with Portland this summer.

    One team cap strategist told B/R, “What’s the upside to being locked up now?” “It’s not Luka Doncic or Donovan Mitchell, who have proven they can carry a team. He’s close. If he does it again, you pay him. But before this year, he was a rotation player on the frontier.”

    Sources said that while Paul was rumored as a potential piece in a theoretical business deal for the Warriors to land on Durant, there was little attraction between Golden State and Brooklyn in such a huge deal. Despite the apparent openness – both from veterans and from Durant himself – regarding the star-studded reunion in the bay, Golden State is not rated as a team that has made serious initiatives to drive Durant out of Barclays Center.

    Poole’s extension talks will likely take some time to finish. Aside from certain starter deals confirmed, the majority of contract extensions for previous first-round picks entering the fourth year of their careers usually end in the last week before the following season. With the 2019 class, former No. 1 seed Zion Williamson, former second pick Ja Morant and fellow All-Star teammate Darius Garland signed their maximum deals at the start of the free agency.

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    RJ Barrett and Tyler Hero (Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

    RJ Barrett and Tyler Herro are the two players eligible for an extension in the 2019 first round whose futures appear to be tied to Durant and Mitchell’s trade lottery results.

    The Miami Heat are still focused on acquiring one of those aforementioned superstars, and multiple sources familiar with the B/R situation told that Miami prioritized pursuing Durant over Mitchell.

    Any of the mega deals would almost certainly include Hero, the Heat’s best young player, which would naturally put talks of a Kentucky product extension for a third year into question. The same goes for the possible inclusion of Barrett in the New York deal for Mitchell.

    But any player who signs up for a starter extension would then fall under the league’s toxic pill clause, further complicating the incorrect math that underscores star trades. If Barrett or Hero sign a new extension, hitting each player in 2022-23 would represent their outgoing salary for deal matching purposes.

    Meanwhile, the team receiving it – Utah, for example – will have to acquire Barrett or Herro at the average annual value of their expiring starter deal plus new extension terms.

    Sources said the Knicks’ personnel showed confidence that they would eventually be able to land Mitchell without sacrificing Barrett. Likewise, league sources have indicated that Utah isn’t fond of becoming the franchise coughing up too much for Barrett.

    Both Barrett and Herro are expected to receive the maximum paydays. By all accounts, Barrett seems unlikely to find a new deal in the meantime. Regardless of the outcome of the trade, there is a greater sense of optimism among NBA executives that Miami will reconcile with Herro ahead of the 2022-23 campaign. “They always seem to pay their men,” said one of the assistant general managers.

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    DeAndre Hunter (Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images)

    The Hawks failed to extend their terms with John Collins ahead of the 2020-21 season, and Atlanta faced similar hurdles by reaching an agreement with DeAndre Hunter. Initial indications are that Atlanta and Hunter have not made much progress in extending the talks, the sources said, with the two sides standing close to $20 million in salary terms over the course of a four-year agreement.

    Keldon Johnson’s $80 million extension is now an obvious comparison for Hunter’s representatives to use on their side of the negotiation. Johnson has shown a promising upside but among the rebuilding list. When Hunter was healthy, he was arguably the Hawks’ second-best player behind Trae Young – only in more than 23 games in 2020-21. Hunter then saw the floor in only 53 competitions last season after missing time with a wrist injury.

    “The injury concerns are very real,” said the team’s hat strategist.

    With the Hawks already betting three first-round picks to acquire Dejounte Murray and his lucrative free agency in 2024, it will be curious to see if Hunter and Atlanta can reach terms before this season.

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    Grant Williams (Brian Papineau/NBAE via Getty Images)

    Johnson’s deal with San Antonio may also set the table for extension talks with Grant Williams in Boston, although it’s hard to expect the Celtics to be rewarded in the third year with such an impressive sum.

    Boston found a valuable deal with Robert Williams III last August, to expand the Celtics’ starting position for four years, plus $48 million plus incentives. Cap experts contacted by B/R predicted that this salary range could set the standard for Grant Williams negotiations, but rival executives doubt Boston would be willing to spend a much larger dollar amount on Grant than Robert.

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    Cameron Johnson (Michael Gonzalez/NBAE via) Getty Images

    The completed extension in San Antonio could affect Cameron Johnson’s talks with the Phoenix Suns as well. The deals for Davis Bertans, Duncan Robinson and Joe Harris will also represent contract friendly comparisons for Johnson’s next deal. Furthermore, there is an argument to be made that Phoenix’s outstanding winger is more than a shooter and can take out playmaking, dribbling and extra defensive pieces at 6’8″.

    With that said, the deal following Johnson’s orders could exceed $15 million in average annual value, marking another crunch in Suns’ salary cap after Phoenix matched Deandre Ayton’s $133 million Indiana four-year offer sheet. Accounting for the Suns is getting too expensive, and league staffers are still rating Jae Crowder and Dario Saric as the commercial nominees entering this season to make room for needed maneuvering in the Phoenix books.

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    Tayfun Coskun / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

    The Sixers actively explored the Matisse Thybulle commercial market this summer – the crucial context for extension discussions for the third year forward. While Thybulle was an All-Defense-caliber guard, his lack of consistent shooting caused problems for the Philadelphia formations around Joel Embiid. In addition, Sixers added PJ Tucker and Danuel House Jr. To increase their depth in two directions on the wing and in the frontal area.

    Sources said there was no impact on extension talks with Thybulle. Most extension conversations don’t begin in earnest until summer approaches. But Thybulle may be the perfect case to resist the league’s recent trend of increasing extension numbers. If the current commercial market is an early indication of free agency next summer, Thybulle’s value may struggle to recover from a poor post-season showing, as his vaccination case further complicates matters. Perhaps there is room for Thybulle to bet himself in hopes of securing a richer deal next season.

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    Nasser Little (Abe Bar/Getty Images)

    Similar to Hunter in Atlanta, Portland has an interesting extension case with Nasser Little, who took the big jump in January before suffering a season-ending shoulder tear that required surgery. Little scored 13.8 points on 40.3 percent of shots from three, 5.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists over a dozen games in that first month of 2022.

    He might look like little of a strong candidate to join the Trail Blazers’ starting lineup on the wing, linking Portland’s Damian Lillard-Inverney Simmons back and Jerami Grant-Joseph Nurkic’s front station. Will Little, then, be able to find an extension that pays an entry-level salary? He’s already been spotted in the gym alongside Lillard during off-season workouts.

    The UNC producer has a clear incentive to find long-term agreement with his injury record. And Portland’s deal with Little now might actually provide more flexibility by providing the poison pill if the Blazers eventually find themselves looking for more commercial improvements around Lillard. All of these factors point to an extension that benefits both sides.

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    Kobe White (Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)

    Coby White, named No. 7 of the 2019 draft, has had a fickle career mired with his injuries and his Chicago spin. The bulls licked white in trade talks dating back to the February trade deadline. Chicago also explored deals with White along with the 18th pick in the June draft.

    White showed spurs in microwave scoring but didn’t consistently, and the league’s talent evaluators questioned his natural positioning back to his North Carolina days. Chicago added that Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso also limited White’s minutes last season, before the injury foul came for them as well.

    White seems unlikely to find an extension before the fall. Perhaps if White can continue to flash the shot put that cemented his place in Chicago’s spinning, high defense and greater playmaking industry, the opposing team will be looking to get White on the deadline, eager for a chance to advance him next season.

    Jake Fisher covers the NBA Report for Bleacher and is the author of Built to Lose: How the NBA’s Tanking Era Changed the League Forever.

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