As Wednesday night's contract extension period finally passed, there were a number of surprising players who did not receive lucrative contract extensions. Many of these athletes are looking for their first big payday in their careers and will now have to wait until summer to sign contracts.
Whether it was their decision to enter a rebuilding period with the chance that a superstar like Dwight Howard or Deron Williams will sign a contract with them, or the fact that they don't see their respective player as a necessity, these teams have decided to not shell out a lucrative contract worthy of their players' talents.
The money is obviously out there, as fourth-year players Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook have been signed to huge contracts.
So, without further ado, here are the five NBA players who should have seen better contracts.
Due to the arrival of former All-Star Gerald Wallace, Nicolas Batum has been relegated to the bench. Since being pulled from the starting lineup, the lanky small forward has struggled to find consistency in his game and is averaging a career-low 43 percent from the floor.
However, the Portland Trail Blazers should have found a way to keep the talented fourth-year player.
Not only can Batum score—he has become a fantastic penetrator and an efficient three-point marksman—but the French forward is also a top-tier defender due to his freakish wingspan and athleticism. Plus, Batum's versatility allows him to play shooting guard, small forward and power forward.
There have been rumors that the Trail Blazers tried to play low-ball with Batum's camp, and Batum's agent Boune Ndiaye is furious about the whole situation:
"'We will not accept the offer that is out there. [...] When Batum becomes a restricted free agent, we'll look at the other 29 teams before we talk to the Blazers,' Batum’s agent Bouna Ndiaye said."
Sure, Batum hasn't developed the way Portland had hoped, but they definitely should have figured out a way to re-sign the promising talent.
The Indiana Pacers are a team that is definitely on the rise. They have a plethora of young prospects who have tapped into their potential, and the new additions of George Hill and former All-Star David West have made this squad elite.
If there is one team that can compete with the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference, it is the Indiana Pacers due to their fantastic depth and lock-down defense.
Much of the team's success can be credited to star center Roy Hibbert. The Pacers' starting center stands at an impressive 7'2" and is a force to be reckoned with under the paint. Hibbert possesses a refined post-game and is averaging a career-high 14.4 points per game.
However, Hibbert's most important contributions come on the defensive end of the floor. The fourth-year player is blocking nearly two shots per game, while intimidating opponents due to his sheer size.
It would be a shame to see Hibbert sign with a different team due to the Pacers' inability to sign the former Georgetown star before Wednesday's deadline.
Despite breaking his foot in the preseason, there is no doubt in my mind that the New Jersey Nets should have signed center Brook Lopez to a contract extension.
With the 6-13 record the Nets currently possess, there are few things the state of New Jersey can be excited about when it comes to its basketball team. However, the chance of adding superstar Dwight Howard while retaining star Deron Williams definitely has Nets fans on the edge of their seats.
But the Nets should not ride everything on the line to make this pairing come to fruition. After all, there is still a chance that Williams bolts in free agency due to his team's poor play.
Losing D-Will would be catastrophic since the team has very few building blocks if they are forced to rebuild. Besides rookie guard MarShon Brooks, the Nets have no young prospects on their team besides Lopez.
Lopez is arguably the best offensive center in the NBA. Sure, he plays passive defense and doesn't hit the boards with aggression, but the center can put up points in a hurry.
The former Stanford star can knock down the middle-range jumper and contains a premier post-game.
In my opinion, signing Lopez was a necessity for the Nets.
The Orlando Magic are in a state of chaos.
Despite possessing an elite record of 12-5, the only thing on Magic fans' minds is the Dwight Howard fiasco and whether or not the Magic will be able to convince "Superman" to stay in O-Town.
As the days go by, it seems more and more likely that D12 will not suit up in Blue and White next season.
With the departure of Howard, the Magic would have absolutely no building blocks for the future, as the team failed to sign power forward Ryan Anderson to an extension.
At the start of the season, Glen Davis was expected to acquire the starting role. But Ryan Anderson, who rode the pine his first three seasons, won the title and has excelled with the increase in minutes.
The fourth-year star out of the University of California is averaging career-highs, with 16.8 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.
The Magic definitely need to find a way to retain the breakout star.
I don't understand what the NBA is doing with the New Orleans Hornets.
The NBA wants someone to buy the organization, but there are few suitors who want to purchase a franchise with low ticket sales and no chance to compete for a title.
Plus, the team has no future building blocks for rebuilding besides Eric Gordon, whom they failed to sign a to contract extension.
Losing Gordon to free agency would be a killer for a fanbase that has experienced a lot of ups and downs the past few months. After all, they just traded away superstar Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Clippers for the aforementioned Gordon.
Gordon is already a star in this league and possesses one of the elite offensive games in the NBA. He is quick off the dribble, which helps him penetrate with aggression, and can nail three-pointers with efficiency. Plus, the former Indiana star has become a lock-down defender despite being undersized.
The departure of Gordon would be catastrophic for the NBA's chances of selling the team.