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|The draft class of 2010 is eligible for extensions before Oct. 31. Will these top 5 picks get big money?|
John Wall is likely to get a max contract extension from the Wizards. Ditto for Paul George and the Pacers. But what about the other key players from the draft class of 2010? Our panel debates whether their teams should lock them up before Oct. 31, or wait until next summer and see what the market bears.
James Ham, Cowbell Kingdom: Extend. The prudent thing to do with Cousins would be to see if he can prove himself this season for new head coach Michael Malone, but the Kings are desperate to find a star. Everything is new in Sacramento -- ownership, management and coaches -- and they have all pinned their hopes to Cousins.
Fred Katz, ClipperBlog: Extend. Cousins is too valuable to risk losing for nothing. Even if the Kings were to regret his contract in the future, some team would be willing to give up assets in a trade for him. Remember that it isn't always a bust that can ruin a franchise, but a front office passing on a potential star.
Tom Sunnergren, Hoop76: Wait and see. The upside: Cousins is a blue-chip talent with a legitimately elite skill (his rebounding). His development may have been stunted by the fact that he's spent the past three years playing for a bizarre social experiment rather than a professional basketball franchise. Still, it's hard to overlook the attitude and harder still to brush aside the career 44.8 field goal percentage.
Matthew Tynan, 48 Minutes of Hell: Extend. Whether or not he's a franchise player or a team pariah debate, production usually wins out. He has the skills to be an elite offensive NBA big man, which should help the Kings work through his volatile personality. This organization gained some healthy structural momentum this offseason; perhaps a revamped culture could do wonders for Boogie.
Michael Wallace, ESPN.com: Extend. I know there's the threat of a tremendous knucklehead element and concerns about his temper and maturity. But Cousins is a once-a-decade type talent for a franchise. Pay the man now, surround him with coaching stability and a trusted, proven, late-career veteran who can show him the NBA way, And keep your fingers crossed that his professionalism will develop as quickly as his robust talent.
Ham: Wait and see. With the team in major rebuild mode, expect Turner to put up better numbers in Year 4. Do you lock him up to a reasonable rate before he puts up inflated numbers? Or do you wait him out and let the market decide his value next summer? I would make him prove his worth one more time or move him at the deadline when he's having a career year.
Katz: Wait and see. Turner is a player without an elite skill in a league of specialists. He does a bunch of things well, but is a pedestrian Swiss Army Knife worth $7 million or $8 million a year? That is the type of contact that can rip salary cap flexibility away from a rebuilding 76ers team.
Sunnergren: Wait and see. Turner is an able passer, a formerly elite rebounder, and seems close to developing a reliable corner 3. He's also an offensive black hole who will be 25 in October, is arguably regressing, and has yet to put together anything that even resembles an average season. With Doug Collins -- and his defiantly inefficient offense -- gone, there's hope for a turnaround. We'll have to see it first.
Tynan: Wait and see. The Fighting Sam Hinkies have made clear their franchise plans, and the former No. 2 pick hasn't made a good case for an early extension with his performance. Philly appears bad enough to challenge for next year's top pick ahead of Andrew Wiggins and a loaded draft class, so there shouldn't be a rush to secure the underwhelming Turner.
Wallace: Wait and see. Turner very well could end up playing in the league for a dozen or so years as a Calbert Chaney, Doug Christie or Dan Majerle-type contributor. But there's been no evidence as of yet that he's a franchise cornerstone or anchor. Philly isn't going anywhere anytime soon, so there's no need to rush into a long-term, expensive deal based on what they know of Turner so far.
Ham: Extend. Like Cousins, Sanders is still trying to put it all together both in performance and decorum. Cousins' ceiling is much higher, but Sanders is still a shot-blocking, rebounding center and those don't grow on trees. Besides, the Bucks aren't exactly a huge draw for free agents. If they think they can ink him to a long-term deal at an affordable clip, then lock him up.
Katz: Extend, extend, extend. Sanders turned into an excellent rebounder last year and is one of the best rim protectors in the NBA. We've learned in today's NBA a dominant defensive big man can carry a defense. The Bucks can't let one of those slip through their hooves.
Sunnergren: Extend. Sanders is the most prolific swatter of shots in the Association, one of the sport's dozen or so best defensive players, and, in 2012-13, improved in nearly every meaningful statistical category. The Bucks are paying Zaza Pachulia and O.J. Mayo $13 million next season -- they could probably put a few shekels aside for Sanders.
Tynan: Extend. A 24-year-old pogo stick with that kind of defensive impact? In Milwaukee? Lock him up. The Bucks were 6.8 points per 100 possessions better defensively when he was on the court. And in a market that must depend on homegrown talent as a building block, it's a no-brainer to secure this Defensive Player of the Year candidate.
Wallace: Extend. Surely, there will be plenty of times when the volatile Sanders' attitude and antics will remind new coach Larry Drew of Josh Smith. But Sanders is a rare breed of NBA big man. His athleticism is rare, and he's shown triple-double ability. He's not a feature player, but he's certainly a keeper.
Ham: If Joe Dumars doesn't extend Monroe, 29 other teams will be lining up to bid for his services. The former Georgetown star has more than produced at the NBA level, which was a concern coming out out of college. As Andre Drummond improves next to him, the floor should open up even more for Monroe. This duo has a chance to be elite. The Pistons have no choice but to lock Monroe up now.
Katz: Wait and see. Monroe tends to fit into any sort of offense. He can play down low. He can pass out of the high post. But we're still waiting to see how a Josh Smith-Monroe-Drummond front court will look and until we know for sure that those three players can shine together, the Pistons are best off playing it safe.
Sunnergren: Extend. Even in what was likely his worst season as a pro (Monroe posted career-lows in true shooting percentage, win shares, and wins produced in 2012-13) the Piston was pretty good. He outpaced positional averages in assists (the increasingly effective passer finished third among centers in assists per minute), rebounds, and steals. He and Drummond could be special together.
Tynan: Wait and see. Prior to the Smith era I would've said extend. But the signing of J-Smoove has exacerbated the Drummond/Monroe debate that already existed. Given Smith's contract and positional conflicts involved, it'd behoove the Pistons to give it a little more time before possibly committing to Monroe, who has arguably the least future value of the three.
Wallace: Extend. But it's a very, very close call. If the Pistons should ever get to a point where they must choose between Monroe and Drummond, the choice should -- and would -- be to keep Drummond. Monroe has the potential to be as versatile as any big man in the league, but does he have the motor, confidence and work ethic? Even if the Pistons aren't sure yet, you have to extend him and keep that valuable commodity.
Ham: Extend. It makes absolutely no sense that Favors played only 23 minutes per game last season for coach Tyrone Corbin. And now, entering his fourth year in the league, the Utah Jazz are finally going to hand the keys over to the former No. 3 overall selection without truly knowing how good he can be. Like Monroe, teams will line up to throw money at Favors next summer. With Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap leaving via free agency, the Jazz have very little choice but to pay up.
Katz: Extend. With Jefferson no longer draining possessions with his slowly developing low-post moves, the Jazz finally have a legitimate opportunity to feature Favors in the offense. Add in the fact that Favors has shown promise defensively and on the boards and this seems like a good time to capitalize on the 22-year-old's value.
Sunnergren: Extend. Favors is a solid, competent professional basketball player. When his minutes -- and, proportionally, counting stats -- increase this season, he may begin to view himself as something more. It's probably best to extend him before he gets this idea in his head, especially if he turns out to be right.
Tynan: Wait and see. Despite physical specimen status, Favors has left something to be desired. He averaged a career high 23.2 minutes per game last season, but his inconsistent numbers belied his defensive flashes and rebounding potential. He's still a project offensively, so it'd be wise to give him starter's minutes first to see what he's got. Utah has time, after all.
Wallace: Extend. Let's be honest here: You're the Utah Jazz. You're located in pristine and picturesque Salt Lake City. But name the last marquee, franchise-altering free agent to go there and set up shop? Favors could be an All-Star, now that he stands to be in a featured role. Locking him up now is a bit of risk, but it's much less of a gamble than pushing him one step closer to free agency.