By Chad Ford
A week ago it began looking like just three first-rounders from the 2006 NBA Draft were going to get contract extensions from their teams.
Brandon Roy got a max deal. LaMarcus Aldridge landed a sweet $65 million extension. And Andrea Bargnani signed a deal worth $50 million.
However, over the course of the past few days there has been a flurry of negotiations and a few other players scored extensions.
Rajon Rondo pocketed $55 million over five years. Thabo Sefolosha landed a four-year, $14 million deal. And Renaldo Balkman inked a three-year, $6 million contract.
That still means that the first round draft class of 2006 had a record low number of players earn extensions. The previous low was the class of 2005. It had seven players get extensions. In contrast, the class of 2002 had 16 players agree to extensions.
That means that a few talented prospects including Rudy Gay, Tyrus Thomas, Luis Scola and Ronnie Brewer will go into next summer as restricted free agents.
But if you're licking your chops thinking your team might sign one of them this summer, don't hold your breath. Last season just one major restricted free agent, Ramon Sessions, changed uniforms. A number of others including David Lee, Nate Robinson and Raymond Felton were forced to sign one-year deals.
Gay appears on the surface to be the most available, given owner Michael Heisley's penny-pinching ways -- but a source in Memphis says, short of a major regression from Gay this season, there's no way they'll let him walk away next summer. Gay was looking for a contract in the $12 million per season range, according to sources. The Grizzles were offering him one in the $10 million per season range. They're really not THAT far apart.
Meanwhile the Class of 2007 has had its fair share of disappointments too.
While the top of the Class of '07 is very strong, one lottery player, Acie Law, and several players drafted in the second half of the draft including Sean Williams, Javaris Crittendon, and Alando Tucker did not have their fourth-year options picked up. One other player from the Class of '07, Morris Almond, didn't have his third-year option picked up by the Jazz last season.
And in a major surprise, the Bucks' Joe Alexander, drafted eighth overall in the 2008 draft, didn't have his third year option exercised. It's not unprecedented for a player drafted in the lottery to not have his third-year option exercised, but it's very rare. In fact, it's only happened twice before. In 2007, Patrick O'Bryant (taken ninth by the Warriors in the 2006 draft) and in 2006 Yaroslav Korolev (drafted 12th by the Clippers in the 2005 draft) did not have their third-year options exercised.
The only other player from the first-round class of 2008 to have their third year option declined was the Celtics' J.R. Giddens.