Good idea/Bad idea: extending 2009 draftees

It’s time for another Good Idea/Bad Idea [Editor's note: we have never done this before, so I have no idea what Devin is talking about]. In this segment I will highlight one good idea and one bad idea involving each team with a prominent member of the 2009 draft class.

Good Idea:

Houston Rockets signing James Harden and his magnificent beard to a five year, $80 million contract extension.

James Harden won the 6th man of the year award last year, and here at the Wages of Wins, most of us think that he was the best shooting guard in the league last year. Recently we’ve been spamming providing all of you with several articles detailing Harden’s greatness. Like the other top players in the league, even at $16 million a year, Harden is underpaid. Did I mention that he’s only 23 and might be on track to win the Most Improved Player award?

Bad Idea:

Oklahoma City Thunder trading away James Harden instead of giving him the max deal he wanted.

Okay, we’ve talked about this one a lot recently, but let’s go over it one more time: OKC did not have to trade Harden, even if they didn’t want to give him the extension he was asking for. They could’ve left him without an extension, played the season out, and then traded Harden then, or extended him, or extended him and then traded him. Anything except trading him away before the season even started. As it stands, the odds of them winning a championship this season have been significantly reduced.

Good Idea:

Denver Nuggets signing Ty Lawson to a four year, $48 million contract extension

Ty Lawson is much better than Russell Westbrook, who the Thunder signed to a five year, $80 million extension. He produced the fourth-most wins at the point guard position last year, and he’ll be turning 25 on November 3rd. He’s definitely worth the money. (Editor’s Note: And he’s on Devin’s fantasy team.)

Bad Idea:

Letting Denver Nuggets coach George Karl decide who gets what playing time.

As evidenced by Kenneth Faried and JaVale McGee’s minutes, George Karl doesn’t know who should be playing. Kosta Koufos is a good player, so it’s perfectly fine if McGee splits the centre position with him, but switching out Faried for Wilson Chandler and Evan Fournier is just sad. Why sub out your excellent power forward for two guard/forwards? Why not play two of your excellent bigs together for more than 14 minutes per game? George Karl has this thing for “small ball”, even when it doesn’t work. In his pre-season predictions, Arturo has actually started punishing the Nuggets with a ‘coaching adjustment’.

Good Idea:

Golden State Warriors signing Stephen Curry to a four year, $44 million contract extension.

Curry has had trouble staying on the court — he missed 40 games last season — but when he’s on the court, he’s been about as good as Ty Lawson (first game of this year’s season notwithstanding). Curry is actually younger than Lawson too, as well as a better shooter. I would hate to see Curry become another Brandon Roy, but I think we’re still a long ways away from that happening. He’ll pull it together and will probably make this deal look like a bargain in a couple of years.

Bad Idea:

Golden State Warriors starting Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes ahead of Brandon Rush.

Harrison Barnes is a rookie who doesn’t project well, and Klay Thompson is a second year player who wasn’t very good in his first year. In contrast to this, Brandon Rush played at a star level last season, and at an average level during the two seasons before that. Who should get the lion’s share of the minutes? The answer is obvious. But NBA decision-makers — like everyone else — have a problem when it comes to evaluating players based on potential. Most of them would rather play an unknown player who might be productive than an established player who is productive.

Good Idea:

Chicago Bulls signing Taj Gibson to a four year, $38 million contract extension.

Gibson is a bit older than most of the 2009 draftees who are getting extensions — he’s 27 years old — but  on a per minute basis he’s been close to equaling Carlos Boozer’s production over the last three years, and in that span Boozer has made over $41 million. The Bulls are probably getting ready to get rid of Boozer through trade or use of the amnesty clause, and Gibson will be a relatively cheap replacement.

Bad Idea:

Chicago Bulls losing a pile of productive players through free agency or trades.

Sure, the Bulls lost Derrick Rose and many expected the Bulls to struggle this year. But if they had managed to keep the rest of their roster intact, the Bulls would’ve been able to make a serious run at winning the Eastern Conference, which is quite weak this season. Instead, the Bulls traded away Kyle Korver and let Ronnie Brewer walk for no reason other than to save a paltry amount of money. They also let Omer Asik go to the Rockets, but that would’ve been a huge amount of money to give to a guy who only played 15 minutes per game for them.

Good Idea:

Toronto Raptors trading for Kyle Lowry.

This is only tangentially related to 2009 draftees signing contract extensions, but we needed to put some good Raptors news in here, as it is a rare occurrence. Lowry played 36 minutes and produced more than half a win by himself during the Raptors home opening loss to the Indiana Pacers. Also good was that the addition of Lowry didn’t completely relegate the excellent Jose Calderon to the bench — Calderon still played 26 minutes and had a WP48 of 0.212 himself. Not too shabby for a guy who they got in excchange for Gary Forbes and a first round draft pick.

Bad Idea:

Toronto Raptors giving DeMar DeRozan a four year, $40 million contract extension.

This is the worst contract extension since the Raptors extended Andrea Bargnani to a five year, $50 million contract in 2009. Wait — you mean to tell me that one man is responsible for both signings? How does that happen? Oh, that’s right, we’re talking about Bryan Colangelo, the Man Who Can Do No Wrong. Like Bargnani, DeRozan is a lottery pick that simply hasn’t panned out. While most young players improve during their first few years in the league, DeRozan has actually gotten worse every single year, which is an impressive feat. He’s a shooting guard who can’t shoot, defend, pass, and rebounds like Steve Nash. But hey, at least the guy can dunk, right? This year there are around 50 players who will make $10 million or more in salary. Is DeRozan anywhere near a top 50 player in this league?

Good Idea:

Milwaukee Bucks not offering Brandon Jennings a contract extension.

Jennings is an overrated scorer and a shoot-first point guard who can’t shoot. Despite the high scoring average, he’s never played at an average level, let alone an above average level. After the Monta Ellis trade, it might be surprising that the Bucks didn’t offer Jennings a pile of money, but it is certainly the right move.

Bad Idea:

Milwaukee Bucks having so many good frontcourt players and so many bad backcourt players.

It’s always good to have productive players, even when you already have productive players playing the same position. But it’s not good to have a surplus of productive players at one position when you have multiple positions without any productive players. The Bucks have four power forward producing at or above an average level, and also picked up centre Samuel Dalembert in the offseason. But most of their guard minutes will go to Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis this season, and these two are not productive. The Bucks should take advantage of their riches at the PF spot by using them to acquire some more productive guards.

Good Idea:

Sacramento Kings not offering Tyreke Evans a contract extension.

Despite winning the Rookie of the year award, Tyreke Evans has hovered around average in his first three seasons. But you don’t reward average players with contract extensions. What you do is wait and see what offers they get on the open market and match if the terms are reasonable. There is no reason to overpay for lukewarm talent — there are plenty such players at or above that level available in the draftplaying overseas, or rotting on NBA benches.

Bad Idea:

Sacramento Kings not giving second year PG Isaiah Thomas more playing time.

The Kings’ roster is overrun with guards who can play the point; there’s Tyreke Evans, Isaiah Thomas, Aaron Brooks, and Jimmer Fredette. Of these four players, Thomas’ rookie season has been the most productive. If you are planning on playing two of them at once, play Thomas and Evans, and limit Brooks and Fredette to garbage time as much as possible.

Good Idea:

Charlotte Bobcats not offering any of their 2009 draftees contract extensions.

The Bobcats were historically bad last season; only one of their players produced at an above-average level. None of their 2009 draftees is worth holding onto, let alone extending, and not a single player on their roster should be considered off-limits when it comes to trades. There’s only one team in the NBA who routinely gives out huge extensions to bad players, and it ain’t Charlotte (at least, not yet).

Bad Idea:

The Charlotte Bobcats.

Let’s try to ignore the fact that Charlotte is a marginal market for an NBA team and that one franchise has already failed there in the last ten years. The players are unproductive; the GM is trying to lose games on purpose; and the owner of the team has a history of disastrous personnel decisions. Someone should buy the team and move it to Chicago, Connecticut, the Inland Empire, Vegas, Austin, or Montréal.

Good Idea:

Dallas Mavericks not giving contract extensions to Darren Collison and Rodrigue Beaubois.

Both Collison and Beaubois have shown flashes in their first three NBA seasons; they have both been around average in terms of productivity. But as I said before, you don’t reward average players with contract extensions. Let them hit the open market and see what happens.

Bad Idea:

Dallas Mavericks signing Eddy Curry and Chris Kaman as one-year stopgap centres.

Both are only going to be in Dallas in the short term — and in Curry’s case, this means he might even be gone in a few days — but both of these players haven’t been good throughout most of their careers. Why spend a lot of money on an established player with a poor performance record when you could give an unknown a shot for peanuts?

Good Idea:

Atlanta Hawks and Philadelphia 76ers not extending Jeff Teague

Another young guard who has hovered around average. Postpone any decision about giving him a new contract until he starts getting offers from other teams during the offseason.

Bad Idea:

Atlanta Hawks trading away Marvin Williams.

Marvin Williams actually led the Hawks in total Wins last year, and was the team’s most productive player on a per minute basis. He’s also only 26 years old. Trading him away for Devin Harris, even if it’s strictly a salary dump, is quite puzzling.

Good Idea:

Philadelphia 76ers playing Andrew Bynum and Spencer Hawes together.

Sure, it hasn’t happened yet, but let me be optimistic for a change. If the 76ers play their two best bigs at the same time, that pushes Thaddeus Young to small forward and keeps more good players on the court at the same time. Hawes, who could turn out to be the next LeBron James, is better at shooting from farther away from the basket, and could be the Pau Gasol to Bynum’s Bynum.

Bad Idea:

Philadelphia 76ers signing Jrue Holiday to a four year, $41 million contract extension.

‘Hey look, it’s another young guard who’s hovered around average! Let’s give him $10 million a year for four years!’ Hmmm…how about no? Wait until the offseason instead.

- Devin

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