Royce O'Neale, Jazz Agree to 4-Year, $36M Contract Extension

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 19, 2020

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12: Royce O'Neale #23 of the Utah Jazz looks on during the game against the Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena on January 12, 2020 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images)
Will Newton/Getty Images

The Utah Jazz and veteran forward Royce O'Neale agreed to a four-year, $36 million contract, his agents confirmed to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Dennis Lindsey, the team's executive vice president of basketball operations, issued a statement about the move:

"Re-signing Royce to a long-term extension was a priority for our organization. Royce is an elite defender and has really shown the ability to spread the floor with his shooting. We feel he brings a versatility to our team that's vital to our success. We're happy that we were able to retain not only a great player in Royce, but also a tremendous person."

O'Neale is averaging 6.2 points and 5.0 rebounds while shooting 44.3 percent from three-point range. He was eligible to become a restricted free agent in the offseason.

ESPN's Bobby Marks noted how O'Neale's contract affects the Jazz's salary-cap situation:

By working out a new deal now, Utah avoids the possible pitfalls of restricted free agency.

The dearth of available top-end talent in this year's free-agent class could've inflated O'Neale's value. The Jazz only needed one team to put an above-market offer sheet on the table to be put in a difficult position this summer.

O'Neale has earned a pay raise as well. He's a big reason Utah is sixth in made three-pointers (12.8) and first in three-point percentage (38.8). Spacing the floor is important for a team that relies so heavily on Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, the latter of whom isn't an impactful long-range shooter yet.

On-off splits don't tell the full story as to a player's contributions, but it's telling the Jazz have been 10 points better per 100 possessions on offense with O'Neale on the floor, per NBA.com.

He has been an excellent perimeter defender too. According to NBA.com, the former Baylor star is holding opposing players to 35.1 percent shooting on attempts beyond 15 feet.

Three-and-D players have never been more valuable in the NBA, and O'Neale has excelled in that role for the Jazz.

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