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Grading the Deadline Rookie Contract Extensions of 2019

NBA 2019 Rookie Contract Extensions

Several NBA teams had business decisions to make this week while preparing for the upcoming season and beyond. Monday was the deadline for players on rookie deals to sign extensions with their teams.

Several players agreed to contracts just before the deadline. Are the deals worth it? Here are the rookie extension deals from Monday and how they are graded based on the salary and the players’ upside.

Taurean Prince

Contract: Two years, $29 million

Grade: B-

In addition to landing two of the biggest free agents in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, the Nets also acquired Taurean Prince in a trade with the Hawks. Heading into his fourth season, Brooklyn signed Prince to an extension that puts him at $14.5 million for two years after this season.

NBA 2019-2020 Rookie Extension Deadline
Taurean Prince. Photo credited to AP.

After a rookie season with limited playing time, Prince averaged 14 points on 43 percent shooting the past two seasons, along with grabbing 4.3 rebounds per game.

With Durant out for the year and Wilson Chandler missing time, Prince will see a good amount of action for the Nets. Prince is a solid interior scorer and will be a good role player for Brooklyn’s future plans.

If Prince can step up defensively against scoring wings he will be asked to guard, as well as expand his offensive game, the Nets won’t regret extending him.

Domantas Sabonis

Contract: Four years, $77 million

Grade: B+

Just a season after the Pacers extended Myles Turner, Domantas Sabonis has signed one of his own. After this season, Sabonis will earn nearly $19 million per year for the next four seasons.

NBA 2019 Rookie Contract Extensions
Domantas Sabonis. Photo credited to AP.

Sabonis had a good 2018-2019 season coming off the bench for Indiana. While Turner is the defensive anchor of the two, Sabonis has a more polished offensive game. Last season, he averaged a career-high 14 points and nine rebounds.

The Pacers may face a fork in the road when it comes to these two bigs, if one or the other is not willing to take on a lesser role. Sabonis is a valuable young asset, and is now on a reasonable contract that teams can easily match.

Until then, Sabonis should be able to make another leap this season as Victor Oladipo’s absence will give Sabonis more offensive opportunities.

Jaylen Brown

Contract: Four years, $115 million

Grade: C+

After turning down an original four-year, $80 million offer from the Celtics, Jaylen Brown agreed to sign a $115 million extension with the team over the same time period.

Brown, the third pick in the 2016 Draft, came into his own during the 2017-2018 season where he averaged 14.5 points and five rebounds in the starting shooting guard role. Last season, Brown was moved to the bench, and saw a dip in stats during a turbulent season for the Celtics.

Brown is an excellent two-way player, and has already shown a lot of promise in his game. At his ceiling, Brown can be an All-Star caliber wing in the Eastern Conference.

The issue with the contract comes with the timing. This big contract was given to Brown before he showed he can take that leap and average 20 points per game. At the end of this season, this contract could be non-controversial. Until then, Celtics fans should be skeptical of the extension, especially with Jayson Tatum due for a bigger one of his own soon.

Buddy Hield

Contract: Four years, $106 million

Grade: A

After some harsh words in the media, Buddy Hield has agreed to stay in Sacramento. He will sign a four-year extension worth up to $106 million.

NBA 2019 Rookie Contract Extensions
Buddy Hield. Photo credited to AP.

Hield has proven himself to be a fantastic offensive player after just three NBA seasons. Hield entered the starting role last season, and averaged career-highs across the board, including 20.7 points per game on 46 percent from the field.

Keeping Hield was something the Kings simply had to do. He and De’Aaron Fox, another talented guard, make up one of the best young tandems in the league.

Sacramento is not the most exciting free agent destination, so keeping one of the best shooters in the league is critical. The team has their best scorer in place to go along with their young core, and could potentially make a playoff push this season.

Dejounte Murray

Contract: Four years, $64 million

Grade: A-

Dejounte Murray’s four-year, $64 million guaranteed contract extension shows how much faith the Spurs organization has in him. Even after missing all of last year with an ACL tear, the team gave him a new contract to start the season.

NBA 2019 Rookie Contract Extensions
Dejounte Murray. Photo credited to AP.

Murray played averaged only 21.5 minutes per game during the 2017-2018 season but still made his presence felt. Murray was selected to the All-NBA Defensive Second Team, the youngest player ever to do so.

Murray averaged 8.0 points and 5.7 rebounds while shooting 44 percent from the field that season.

Murray, along with Derrick White, Keldon Johnson and others, is part of San Antonio’s young core of the future. If Murray can continue to improve his offensive game while maintaining his lockdown defense, this contract could be looked at as underrated in a few years’ time.


Featured image credited to AP.

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