So, who are the players most likely to sign contract extensions before the start of next season? Let’s take stock of a few of the contract talks looming across the NBA as we look toward 2022–23.
LeBron James, Lakers
James becomes eligible for an extension on Thursday and will likely start a flurry of speculation to put pen to paper on a new deal. LA would probably be eager to offer an extension — a two-year deal likely worth $97 million — even though we’re sure James would accept such a deal? The answer is still not clear. James appears happy to end his career in Los Angeles – at least until Bronny James enters a potential league – although being satisfied with his current situation may not lead to a new contract. James could use his potential free agency as evidence of the Lakers front desk, putting pressure on the organization to upgrade its current roster to sacrifice its future assets. We’ve seen this scheme before in Cleveland. Don’t be shocked if LeBron plays a string of his current deal despite the uncertainty that will follow.
Draymond Green, Clay Thompson, Warriors
Joe Lacob has an act of juggling on his hands. A Golden State owner has paid a historic luxury tax bill in recent years, and that number may continue to rise as 2020. Steph Curry is signed through 2025–26, with $59.6 million owed in the final year of his contract. A similar commitment may be on the horizon for a pair of Golden State veterans.
Green was not shy about his desires for a new deal. His current contract expires at the end of 2022–23, and Green says he wants a maximum extension worth a total of $164.2 million over the next five seasons. It’s hard to see such a deal in focus. Green has the most value in the Warriors, and is unlikely to be a huge hit on the open market. Perhaps the smartest path would be for the two sides to meet in the middle, giving Green a stretch of less than maximum for another two or three seasons.
Thompson hasn’t been as vocal as Green about a new deal, and he will likely have a long shot at signing any kind of extension this season. Thompson currently has two years left on his deal, which is set to earn $40.6 million next year. Let’s revisit this conversation in August 2023 if he runs another health campaign.
Fred Vanfleet, Raptors
The Toronto core may delay its new deal by a year and take advantage of the league’s increased revenue in 2023 and beyond, but that looks like a safe extension candidate ahead of opening night. VanVleet has become a stalwart in Toronto, a player who has brilliantly nurtured the Raptors from the Kowhi Leonard era to the current group led by Scotty Barnes. VanVleet is 29 this season, and a four-year, $114 extension should be reasonable enough for Toronto and profitable enough to keep it off the open market. We should see a Wichita State producer established in Toronto for years to come.
Tyler Hero, Hit
It’s unlikely we’ll see an extension of Herro until the positions of Donovan Mitchell and Kevin Durant have resolved themselves, at least as they relate to Heat. Herro cannot actually trade until July 2023 if he gets an extension, leaving Miami to hold off on making a long-term commitment before withdrawing from the Mitchell or Durant sweepstakes. Such a proposal is possible (and even likely) given the higher prices for each star, leading to potential negotiations between Herro and Heat in September. Don’t be surprised if Herro signs an extension before the season starts, which could exceed $25 million a year.
RG Barrett, Knicks
The previous No. 3 pick is also affected by the looming Mitchell sweepstakes, though his participation in a potential deal with Utah is not guaranteed. New York could capture Mitchell with a slew of youngsters, then still extend Barrett before the mid-October deadline. It’s a separate question as to whether the Knicks want to commit anything close to their start-up cap near $185 million for Barrett, a young, up-and-coming player who has yet to break out. Getting Mitchell could change his calculus, allowing Knicks to either lock up a young trio or shop Barrett for a sturdier third piece.
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Jordan Paul, Warriors
Golden State’s skyrocketing expectations for luxury taxes will likely leave one of Green, Thompson, Poole and Andrew Wiggins as the odd man out when it comes to contract extensions. It’s unclear if there’s any preference for Poole versus Wiggins at Golden State’s front office, though Poole may be a (relatively) cheaper option, with a new deal potentially landing at around $100 million over four years. But unless Paul is ready to take a big discount this season, expect him to enter restricted free agency next summer.
Andrew Wiggins, Warriors
It’s a little funny to put Wiggins in this category, although it’s hard to consider him as anything but a veteran as he enters his eighth season in the NBA. Wiggins is actually a 28-year-old NBA redemption storyline emerging from an inspiring post-season in the Golden State, ready to cash in once again when he enters the final year of a massive signed extension in 2017. The Warriors will face a slew of must-have suitors Prospective entry into Wiggins’ free agency next summer.
I’m more optimistic about the Wiggins extension than Poole’s. The former No. 1 pick shone as a two-way force in the finals, chasing Jason Tatum on the defensive end. Paul’s talent for scoring is enormous, although, in the broad sense, it is slightly duplicated by Curry and Thompson. Wiggins fills the void left by the elderly Andre Iguodala, serving as a perfect winger defender and secondary scorer. The former first pick may wait another year and enter the free agency market in 2023, although regardless, his long-term future is likely to be in the Golden State.
CJ McCollum, Pelican
The former Blazers guard was a discovery for New Orleans last season, leading a team of Young Pelicans to the playoffs despite Zion Williamson’s absence. The move added a serious dose of professionalism to the franchise, and it’s no exaggeration to say McCollum’s presence played a role in Williamson’s massive out-of-season contract extension. The once-fractious relationship between Williamson and the Swans appears to be back on track, in part due to the veteran bouncer’s behind-the-scenes work.
McCollum wasn’t flabby on the floor either. He took the helm as a lead with ease, averaging 24.3 points per game across 26 regular season competitions in New Orleans. McCollum is perhaps not the league’s most explosive scorer, although he has an intelligent and flexible game that can thrive in tandem with any ball control option. Don’t be surprised if we see two years into McCollum’s deal, which is currently due to expire after 2023–24.
D’Angelo Russell, Timberwolves
Russell is eligible for a four-year extension of $170 million, a number he won’t frankly come close to. He is said to have indicated that he is willing to meet Minnesota in the middle on an extension number, although I am skeptical that any agreement will be reached. The Timberwolves now has a front yard approaching $500 million, and the Anthony Edwards stretch isn’t too far away. Russell is a nice complementing scorer and a nice clutch player. But in a league full of guards, it’s hard to see Minnesota making a major investment. Russell is a sneaky trading chip as the year approaches.
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Kyle Kuzma, Wizards
Kuzma quietly turned into his best year as a professional in 2021–22, earning big chances as Washington’s first choice after injury to Bradley Beal. Will he become a fellow competitor alongside Bill for years to come? This is a suspicious suggestion. Kuzma is likely to pull out of his 2023-2024 deal given good health this season, and while Washington could keep him via an extension this summer or with Bird Rights next season, luxury tax concerns will quickly emerge. Beal and Kristaps Porziņģis Will Raise $82 Million (Not a Typo!) in 2023–24. Roy Hatchimura could receive a new deal, and there is some positional overlap in play with Denny Avdega.
Washington may be optimistic about this current substance and therefore eager to come to terms with Kuzma over an extension. It is likely that it is still an expired deal and the next segment in the trading market comes in February 2023.
Kevin Porter Jr., Rockets
Houston has restocked its roster with an interesting array of young talent in the past two years since James Harden’s commercial demand, including top three Jalen Green and Jabari Smith Jr. The future of Green’s backcourt teammate remains uncertain. Point guard Kevin Porter Jr. is currently eligible for a junior-wide extension, something he and the Rockets are said to be interested in agreeing to before the start of 2022.–23 season. Getting an adequate annual salary is a more complicated matter.
Porter appears as a master playmaker many nights, displaying the desire and ingenuity to find exposed shooters, cutters, and big men rolling around as he roams the aisle. His vision advanced for a young 22-year-old who was accepted as the elusive shooter last season despite his hefty size. Porter still has shortcomings as an inside-arch scorer, although growing up with his blackjack should allay some of those concerns. You don’t have to stare so hard to see Porter as a capable offensive engine.
Previous locker room incidents in both Cleveland and Houston have cast doubt on Porter’s potential extension, although for the Rockets, last year’s dust was more of an isolated incident than a warning sign. Porter boasts a strong relationship with Green, coach Stephen Silas and assistant John Lucas II, and it appears that there are investments in Porter across the organization. The Rockets can wait for Porter’s restricted free agency next year. It may be in the best interest of both parties to secure an extension of around $12–$15 million in annual range.
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