Left and right, we’re seeing NBA teams make decisions on the players selected in the 2017 draft. They are either choosing to extend them with three or four-year NBA contracts, or opting to just decline it and deal with it next summer.
First, things first, here’s the list of guys who came to terms with their team: Markelle Fultz, Jonathan Isaac (ORL), Derrick White (SAS), OG Anunoby (TOR), Luke Kennard (LAC), and Kyle Kuzma (LAL).
And, here’s a list of the players who will now be restricted free agents next summer as a result of not agreeing to a new deal: Lonzo Ball (NOP), Lauri Markkanen (CHI), and John Collins (ATL). Read on, as I take a look at each NBA contract decision and what it means for the future of the teams.
NBA Contract Extensions – Spurs Make a Winning Move
Signing Derrick White to a 4-year, $73 million deal was a no-brainer. Statistically, White is not going to fill it up by any means. But he’s a fantastic playmaker and can get hot at any time. His 36-point performance against Denver in the playoffs two years ago speaks volumes about his ability.
White is a bit on the older side, given that he entered the NBA at age 23, but he has a lot of great basketball in the tank. He’ll be a part of the next Spurs playoff team.
Orlando Keeps Defensive Identity Intact
Injuries have plagued the Orlando Magic over the past few years. But they were able to get over the hump and qualify for consecutive playoff appearances. Two guys that helped them to great success last year, will both be around for the long-term.
Markelle Fultz inked a $50 million extension, that will last three years. He proved that he could stay healthy and play well on both ends. He may have some competition with incoming rookie Cole Anthony for PG minutes, but he’ll be great here for a long time. Fultz is still just 22, and won’t turn 23 until May.
And though he is out this year, Jonathan Isaac still has a promising NBA future. This will be the third season of his that was plagued by injury. But two seasons ago, he was healthy and a good scorer and elite defender. When he gets healthy, Isaac will be an All-NBA defender again.
Pelicans Make a Head-Scratching Choice
Yes, they just traded for Eric Bledsoe. But, why on earth would the Pels not extend Lonzo Ball? Overall, he had a very solid first season in New Orleans. He is a top-tier defender who can heat up from time-to-time. His offense still leaves a bit to be desired outside of the inconsistent shooting touch, but he has a lot of value.
Ball is a good leader, and somebody that the team’s All-Star Brandon Ingram is very close with. The Pelicans did just draft Kira Lewis (a point guard) in the draft, but still. Lonzo is a guy you should want to keep around.
We’ll see what happens next summer.
NBA Contract Extensions – Hawks Making Collins Earn It
It was a very strong first two years for John Collins. He made shots all over the floor, threw down poster dunks, and proved himself to be a strong shot-blocker. Last year, he failed a drug test very early in the season, and had to miss 25 games. The team missed him greatly.
Given that the season was shortened to just 65 games for Atlanta and the other non-bubble teams, it had an even larger impact. This is likely the main reason for the decision to wait on Collins’ extension. They want to see if he can make smarter choices this year. And given that the team just signed Danilo Gallinari, his minutes will have to be earned on some nights.
If Collins can figure it out, that would be great. Because Trae Young is eligible for an extension next summer, though the team will probably wait and give Young a max deal after the 2021-22 season.
Clippers Paid Luke Kennard a lot of Dough
Luke Kennard had a few strong seasons in Detroit. But, he was never able to stay fully healthy. The potential is there for him as a takeover scorer, but he’s been pretty mediocre overall. And doing it in Detroit means very little, considering that they have been .500 or worse for each of the past three seasons.
The Clippers gave Kennard a $64 million deal, spanning four years. This is before he even played a game for them. This is a bad decision. He isn’t even slated to start. And they still have Lou Williams here. How many minutes is he even going to get per game next to Kawhi and PG?
Bulls Uncertain on Markkanen
Lauri Markkanen has had his ups and downs over his first three years, but this year should be different. Acquired with Zach LaVine in the Jimmy Butler deal on draft night in 2017, the NBA’s first Finnish NBA player has a lot to prove.
He didn’t play well with Jim Boylan as the coach. But Billy Donovan should be able to maximize his potential. The young core of the Bulls could be set in stone if he figures it out. A Coby-LaVine-Patrick Williams-Lauri-Wendell Carter Jr. lineup could be really nice if they can get a few more veterans to bring off the bench.
They should be paying him next summer, and we’ll have an answer to it soon enough.
NBA Contract Extensions – Raptors Show Love for OG
After the season OG Anunoby just had, $72 million truly isn’t enough. But, Toronto was able to sign Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, and OG to extensions that keep them in town for a few more years. Brilliant work from Masai Ujiri.
With the Raptors down 2-0 to Boston and trailing by two points with 0.5 seconds left in game three, OG threw up a prayer off the inbounds pass and was able to sink it. That three-ball would lead to two other Raptor wins in a wild series, that saw them lose in 7.
Anunoby missed most of the 2018-19 season, but had a great bounce back once he rejoined the starting lineup last season. Anunoby should produce for Toronto again, the starting small forward spot now his for the foreseeable future.
Lakers Extend Kuzma
It came as a bit of surprise, but the Lakers gave Kyle Kuzma a 3-year, $40 million extension. His play has been sporadic in the last two seasons, but they felt he carried enough value that it was worth giving him a payday. The #27 pick from the 2017 draft earned more than most folks thought he would both NBA contract wise, and playing time.
Perhaps now that he has job security, there is less pressure on Kuz. The issues with him are pretty simple, really. He’s gotten fewer offensive touches, so he’s felt compelled to make plays that aren’t always there to compensate. He had a lot more opportunities during his first season than he has in the last two with LeBron on the floor.
Time will tell if LA regrets it, but, for now, we say congratulations to former Utah Ute Kyle Kuzma.
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