'I Don't Get It': NBA Execs Sound Off on Biggest Rookie Extension Deals

Eric Pincus@@EricPincusLA Lakers Lead WriterOctober 23, 2019

Boston Celtics' Jaylen Brown plays against the Charlotte Hornets during the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game in Boston, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — Teams were feeling generous Monday, the eve of the 2019-20 NBA season.

As the rookie-scale extension deadline neared for 2016 first-round picks, the deals came quickly: Jaylen Brown, Domantas Sabonis, Taurean Prince, Buddy Hield and Dejounte Murray each got paid.

Add that to extensions previously inked by Ben Simmons, Jamal Murray, Pascal Siakam and Caris LeVert, and nine of 30 eligible players were extended. Others, like Brandon Ingram, Kris Dunn and Thon Maker, will need to wait for restricted free agency next summer.

Bleacher Report spoke to front-office members around the league regarding each new deal. 


Jaylen Brown: 'I don't get it'

Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

Of the deals, Brown's $115 million agreement over four years with the Boston Celtics, as originally reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, was the most polarizing to multiple NBA sources.

"He's a stud," one Eastern Conference executive said, arguing Brown will live up to his contract.

"I like the player, but..." another East executive said, balking at the price tag.

"I imagine there are incentives. Gotta be," a Western Conference executive chimed in when the news broke.

Per Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, Brown will earn $4 million if he plays at least 65 games and the Celtics have at least 49 wins and reach the second round of the postseason.

Brown would get up to $8 million if he wins league MVP or Defensive Player of the Year or if he lands on one of the league's three All-NBA teams, per Haynes.

"That makes it a bit more reasonable," the executive responded.

Taking the incentives into account, the NBA will treat Brown's deal like it's worth $107 million, starting at $23.9 million for 2020-21 and ramping up to $29.6 million for the 2023-24 season.

A common thread of concern on the Brown extension is that if the Celtics are willing to pay that much, why not wait until the summer? Few teams project to have significant cap room. Is Brown really going to get a $125 million offer sheet?

"I don't get it," an agent said. "What's the rush to get a deal done?"

If Brown is worth that kind of money, let him prove it on the court this season before overinvesting.


Pascal Siakam: 'Raptors are still living off that championship high'

Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

Similarly, Siakam's four-year maximum extension ($129.9 million) with the Toronto Raptors (per Wojnarowski) led to some consternation.

"Not the player—he's tremendous—but the Raptors are still living off that championship high," the agent said.

Instead of protecting their cap space next summer, which could have reached over $80 million (including Siakam's low $7.1 million cap hold), the Raptors gave Kyle Lowry a one-year, $30.5 million contract extension.

Toronto may not be a proven free-agent destination, but teams like the Brooklyn Nets, Memphis Grizzlies, Atlanta Hawks and Philadelphia 76ers have all used cap room in trades over recent years, getting compensated with draft considerations for taking on unwanted contracts.

"I'd have played the restricted-free-agent game with Siakam," one former executive said. "If you're willing to pay the max, you can pay him that same max later.

"But it keeps the relationship strong and shows commitment," he continued, using logic that would apply to Brown and the Celtics as well.


Dejounte Murray: 'A good compromise'

Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

The Dejounte Murray deal with the San Antonio Spurs was generally praised.

"A good compromise for a really good player coming off injury," one Eastern Conference executive said of Murray's four-year, $64 million extension (reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium).

"Reasonable starter money, nothing outrageous," said one agent. "Murray didn't average double figures [in scoring] before he got hurt, but he can play. The Spurs are investing in his growth."


Taurean Prince: 'He'd have a lot of leverage if he waited'

Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

The same agent didn't like Taurean Prince's two-year, $29 million deal (per Malika Andrews and Wojnarowski of ESPN) with the Brooklyn Nets—not for the team, but for the player.

"He got low starter money on a short deal. He's going to play a lot of minutes for them this season. He'd have a lot of leverage if he waited until the summer."


Domantas Sabonis: 'Ain't going to work'

While Sabonis' extension ($79.4 million over four years, per Charania) was considered a good deal for both sides, the bigger question for the Indiana Pacers is fit alongside Myles Turner under head coach Nate McMillan.

"He's not a great fit in Nate's system; he's not a floor-spacer," the former executive said.

"Twin towers in today's NBA?" said an Eastern Conference executive. "Just ain't going to work with what Indy has right now."


Buddy Hield: 'Too much'

Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

As for Hield's deal with the Sacramento Kings? It starts at $86 million over four years but has incentives that could push it as high as $106 million, per Sam Amick of The Athletic.

"Too much," said the former executive.

"The Kings overpaid Harrison Barnes [in free agency], inflating what Buddy was asking for," the agent said.

Barnes signed in July at four years and $85 million.


Brandon Ingram: If he fits with Zion, Pels could max him

Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

Meanwhile, the New Orleans Pelicans will have all season to evaluate Ingram, who will be a restricted free agent next summer. If he fits with Zion Williamson once the rookie sensation recovers from a knee injury, the Pelicans can match any offer or pay him up to the maximum if they choose.


Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter, @EricPincus.