Skip to content

Winderman: Trying to make sense of rookie contract extensions

Nov 1, 2012, 2:56 PM EDT

Daryl Morey, James Harden AP

On many levels it makes sense that the NBA’s deadline for rookie-scale extensions is Oct. 31.

Because while there are many treats (for the players involved), there also can be more than a few tricks (down the road when it comes to teams’ salary caps and luxury taxes).

James Harden? He deserved as much as anybody (although the max is another issue, and we’ll get to that later).

DeMar DeRozan and Jrue Holiday at $10 million plus per season? Really?

For that matter, more per season for DeRozan and Holiday than Taj Gibson, a player who actually has helped drive his team deep into the playoffs, even if as a reserve?

First let’s start at the crux of all NBA contracts: the presence of a maximum salary.

NBA negotiations no longer are about per-for-performance, at least not at the top end. Instead, it’s a matter of a player essentially saying, “How much you got?”

With established maximum-salary levels, players know exactly how much their own teams have, since the salary-cap, even in its post-lockout draconian form, still allows teams to exceed the cap to retain incumbent free agents or impending free agents.

To the Thunder’s credit, Sam Presti drew a line in the sand, computed Harden’s request for five years at $80 million and balked.

It was the right move, because with the Thunder, Harden never would reach leading-man status, not behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

In Houston, he yet could prove worth the money.

And that’s something hard to say with just about every other rookie-scale extension negotiated outside of Gibson, and perhaps Ty Lawson.

Even if Gibson hits his incentives and reaches $38 million over four seasons, he already has proven to be worth considerably more than Carlos Boozer (which is why Boozer will be amnestied after this season and Gibson will receive a role commensurate with his new deal).


Stephen Curry at $44 million over four seasons? To what, miss shots and sit out games for the Warriors? Yes, he has shown he can be special, he just hasn’t done it over an extended period, the perfect reason to allow him to become restricted, which still would have had the Warriors in control, while also getting another season to get a read.

DeMar DeRozan at $40 million over four seasons? This is why the Raptors are the Raptors, consistently living in fear that they won’t be able to lure prime free agents (they won’t), so they instead squander on anyone willing to stay north of the border. And continue to chase a No. 8 seed and one-and-done playoff fate in perpetuity.

Jrue Holiday at $41 million over four seasons? Question: Is Holiday among the top half of point guards in the league? Answer: No. Question: Will he ever be? Answer: The 76ers are gambling eight figures a season on that prospect. A nice player? Sure. But the NBA’s new economy supposedly is not a place for nice players to make very-nice money.

Ty Lawson at $48 million over four seasons? We’re not talking Harden money here, but something closer to it than the other extensions in this rookie class. And yet, based on the star-less system the Nuggets supposedly are constructing, there is something to be said about making sure the motor of the offense is sated. In many ways, the Nuggets are Lawson, the little team that could. In Denver’s economy, this is a move that makes more sense than some of the above.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at @IraHeatBeat.

  1. therealroman - Nov 1, 2012 at 3:19 PM

    I think Derozan is gonna be a very, very good player. I think that contract is a big gamble, but the bank doesn’t always win the game, you can too. If he works hard (especially on his shot and his D), and utilizes his potential, he could be special.

  2. thesixersbench - Nov 1, 2012 at 3:21 PM

    “For that matter, more per season for DeRozan and Holiday than Taj Gibson, a player who actually has helped drive his team deep into the playoffs, even if as a reserve?”

    I guess running the point and averaging 38 MPG, 16, 5 and 5 while shooting 40% from 3 for a team that pushed the Celts to Game 7 of Round 2 doesn’t count. (Not to mention a steal and a half per game – he’s awesome defensively)

    What a clown. If this guy was a GM, his philosophy would lead to a backcourt of Luke Ridnour and Jordan Crawford. “They might not get us any wins…But what a deal these two are!”

    • pglive21 - Nov 1, 2012 at 4:09 PM

      Please, their post season would have been over in 5 games if D. Rose hadn’t blown his ACL. Holiday is a mediocre point guard who will get better, but he’ll never be a game changer. He doesn’t do a single thing at an elite level. Curry can shoot from any range at an elite level. Ty Lawson drives into the lane more than anyone in the league. Think of Holiday’s ceiling as a poor man’s Terrell Brandon and you’d figure out that he’s probably worth closer $7 million/year.

      • thesixersbench - Nov 1, 2012 at 4:21 PM

        “Please, their post season would have been over in 5 games if D. Rose hadn’t blown his ACL.”

        Moot point. It DID happen and then they pushed a very good Celtics team to 7. That’s more than most of the East could’ve done.

        “Holiday is a mediocre point guard who will get better, but he’ll never be a game changer. He doesn’t do a single thing at an elite level.”

        I’m guessing you agree with Mr. Winderman and would rather let him walk. Excellent strategy. Let’s get Mr. Ridnour’s agent on the phone and sell him to the fans.

        He’s 22 years-old (June), has only started at the point for two full seasons and has never played PG before the NBA.

        Despite all of that, he has made leaps and bounds every year – showing last year in the playoffs, on the league’s biggest stage ( despite Mr. Winderman’s claims) that he has the skills to be a difference maker in this league. If you watched that Celtics series and DIDN’T think he was one of the best players on the court…well, you didn’t watch very closely.

        But yes, you make very good points.

        And if you want an elite skill….his on-ball defense is spectacular. Better than every guard mentioned above except Harden. But you’d actually have to watch him to notice.

      • pglive21 - Nov 1, 2012 at 6:52 PM

        You’re right that I didn’t give enough merit to his on ball defensive skills. They’re impressive. He’s one of the better defensive guards in the league. Not elite, but definitely considerably better than average.

        I didn’t say I’d let him walk. What I’m saying is that by tying up $41 million to Jrue Holiday and a max contract in Bynum, the Sixers have hamstrung themselves and lowered their potential ceiling. I definitely do not think he would have been paid more than $41 million over 4 years by anyone other than bottom feeders who felt they needed to make a splash to tide over their fans. I’m not sure why you keep bringing up Ridnour, I can’t see how he’s relevant at all to this discussion.

        He’s started nearly 200 games. He can definitely get better, but if you haven’t seen signs of an elite point guard yet, he’s not going to get there. An league average starter at point guard should probably run about $5 million a year. Saying Holiday is worth close to $7 million a year isn’t an insult, it’s just pointing out that while he’s good, he’s not great.

    • trschlicht - Nov 1, 2012 at 4:14 PM

      Ridnour making $4 mil a year is not really a bargain in my mind as a TWolves fan.

      • 00maltliquor - Nov 1, 2012 at 5:03 PM

        Trade you Steve Blake and his $4 mil for Luke Ridnour and his $4 mil. I’ll even throw in some movie tickets and a large bucket of popcorn! Whadaya say?…

  3. 00maltliquor - Nov 1, 2012 at 4:03 PM

    Every last one of those mentioned contracts is a head scratcher. Seems like more players are getting paid more money then ever before with this new CBA. Doesn’t make sense.

    • zerole00 - Nov 1, 2012 at 4:55 PM

      The CBA can’t fix stupid owners. They’ll continue shoot themselves in the foot with contracts.

      • tcclark - Nov 1, 2012 at 7:10 PM

        sure it can. A hard salary cap keeps them from resigning players over the cap, thus not allowing them to sign for whatever the owners are willing to pay them. Unfortunately we almost missed a season and we still don’t have a hard salary cap

  4. jucam1 - Nov 1, 2012 at 4:10 PM

    The fact that you think the Holiday extension is inflated and that he isn’t worth it tells me and the rest of the public how little you have watched him play…. It’s fine, you’re not the first writer that isn’t fully versed in his craft, but was hoping for a bit more…. Holiday is about to break out and then you can see that this contract is gonna be super team friendly…

    • thesixersbench - Nov 1, 2012 at 4:23 PM

      Word. I am very pleased with this contract. Long-term, it will work out kindly for the Sixers and their cap management – in spite of Mr. Winderman’s confused pleas.

  5. liamj55 - Nov 1, 2012 at 4:23 PM

    Didn’t Jrue Holliday’s Sixers beat Taj Gibson’s Bulls in the playoffs????????

    • tcclark - Nov 1, 2012 at 7:11 PM

      They beat Ty Lawson’s Nuggets last night too without Bynum

  6. torontofalcon - Nov 1, 2012 at 4:36 PM

    This guy is a moron jrue is an underrated player and so is demar, if they were in La, Boston or Mia you wouldnt stop talking about them.

    • thesixersbench - Nov 1, 2012 at 4:46 PM

      I gotta admit…while I think DeMar has talent, I definitely raised an eyebrow when I saw that contract.

      The move that hurts the most – I think – won’t be DeMar’s’ll be Landry Fields. Yikes.

  7. teedraper - Nov 1, 2012 at 4:38 PM

    Winderwoman shut up. What kind of “man” compliant about the money another “man” makes. Child please.

    U mad?

  8. eagles512 - Nov 1, 2012 at 6:31 PM

    I think holiday and Lawson are close now but holiday has much more upside.

  9. tcclark - Nov 1, 2012 at 7:14 PM

    i’ll tell you, Holiday had a bad shooting night last night and still had a better game than Lawson. Double double with six boards and 2 steals. I’ll take that at 10 million.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Rose (2100)
  2. L. James (1858)
  3. K. Irving (1675)
  4. K. Bryant (1664)
  5. J. Smith (1434)