Philadelphia 76ers: Why Jrue Holiday's Extension Was the Right Thing to Do

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Philadelphia 76ers: Why Jrue Holiday's Extension Was the Right Thing to Do
Mark L. Baer-US PRESSWIRE

Right before Wednesday's midnight deadline, the Philadelphia 76ers and Jrue Holiday reached an agreement on a four-year, $41 million contract, according to ESPN.com's Marc Stein.

Sam Amick of USA Today later reported that incentives in Holiday's deal "can and likely will take it to $46 million."

On a day where the Toronto Raptors handed a four-year, $40 million contract to DeMar DeRozan (that could go up to $46 million, according to ESPN's Chris Broussard), locking down Holiday for under $11 million a year will end up being a steal for the Sixers.

Holiday made news over the summer with his reported request for a max contract, which was pretty difficult to believe for a guy who had just averaged 13.5 points, 4.5 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game in the 2011-12 season.

In the weeks leading up to the Oct. 31 extension deadline, both the Sixers and Holiday's camp appeared pessimistic about the prospects of getting a deal done.

Holiday's agent, Tony Dutttold USA Today's Amick two days before the deadline that he and the team "had conversations, but I don't feel like any progress has been made."

If Holiday truly held the line at "max contract or bust," the Sixers would have every reason in the world not to have offered that extension.

To date, Holiday hasn't done anything in his three-year career to earn a max contract, as evidenced by his below-league-average PER of 14.2 from the 2011-12 season.

Averages of around 14 points and 5.5 assists in second and third years don't exactly scream, "Pay the man!" either.

Holiday's new contract makes perfect sense for the Sixers, though, for two reasons.

Let's start with the less tangible one. It's the dreaded "P" word—potential.

Heading into the 2012-13 season, Holiday already had three NBA seasons under his belt, including the past two as a starter for the Sixers.

David Butler II-US PRESSWIRE
We saw Holiday's potential on full display in the Sixers' 2012 playoff series against the Boston Celtics.

He just turned 22 years old in June.

While Holiday didn't take the statistical leap many were expecting between his second and third seasons, there's still plenty of time for Holiday to continue developing his game before he reaches his athletic prime.

He's a 6'3", long-armed defensive nightmare for smaller opposing point guards, such as Ty Lawson of the Denver Nuggets, which fits right into Sixers coach Doug Collins' defense-first mold.

To take the next step offensively, Holiday needs to start drawing more fouls around the basket. He only averaged 1.8 free-throw attempts per game in the 2011-12 regular season but nearly doubled that rate in the 2012 playoffs.

If the Sixers' first game of the 2012-13 season was any indication (Holiday had five free-throw attempts), it won't be long until that perceived weakness is eliminated from Holiday's game.

The real reason the Sixers had to act swiftly on Holiday before allowing him to reach restricted free agency in the summer of 2013, however, had to do with the 29 other teams in the league.

The Nuggets just awarded a four-year, $48 million contract to Lawson. The Golden State Warriors extended point guard Stephen Curry to a four-year, $44 million deal earlier Wednesday, despite significant concerns about the health of his ankle(s).

Meanwhile, in the summer of 2012, Goran Dragic, George Hill and Jeremy Lin all signed long-term deals for roughly $8 million/year, effectively setting the contract floor for quality starting NBA point guards.

Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE
If Goran Dragic is getting nearly $8 million/year, what would Holiday have received on the open market?

Long story short, you're not locking up a potentially championship-caliber starting point guard for less than $8-10 million these days, even under this new, (theoretically) more restrictive collective bargaining agreement. (Unless he's still on his rookie contract, like Kyrie Irving or John Wall.)

Knowing that, the Sixers had to assume that someone would have overpaid Holiday in the summer of 2013 with something like a four-year, $50-plus million offer, especially if he takes "the leap" this coming season.

Even a $10-plus million/year contract for Holiday won't be easy to digest for some, based on his statistical output in his first three seasons. That's understandable.

Tom Ziller of SBNation said that based on Lawson's $12 million/year deal, the Sixers shouldn't be paying Holiday more than $8-9 million/year.

Keep in mind, though, Lawson turns 25 on Nov. 3.

Curry turns 25 on March 14, 2013.

Holiday turns 25 on June 12, 2015.

The Sixers just locked up a young, long-term option at point guard for less than what Curry, Lawson and Rajon Rondo are being paid.

Even if he doesn't develop into a perennial All-Star, he's the type of two-way player the Sixers need to build around.

What's the next step? Getting Andrew Bynum re-signed.

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