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Nothin' but Net: Extend, or not to extend

10:45 AM, Aug 1, 2013   |    comments
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Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - John Wall became the first member of the vilified draft class of 2010 to sign a contract extension.

Fitting, since he was the No. 1 overall pick.

Reports say Wall got max money (five years, $80 million) from the Washington Wizards, but, much like all deals in the nation's capital, details were not officially released.

Is Wall worthy of max money?

The simple reality is, whether you think so or not, he was going to get it. In this time in the NBA, max contracts are thrown around like marbles. Within the structures of collective bargaining, Brook Lopez, Rudy Gay and Eric Gordon have max deals.

The reality Washington faced was that if Wall hit the open market, some team would've ponied up the loot. It would most likely have come next offseason, and while the Wiz could've matched whatever offer came forth, it was probably just easier to appease their star.

And the fact that Wall is Washington's star looms large. People have pointed to the deals Jrue Holiday, Steph Curry, Jeff Teague and Ty Lawson signed as a barometer of Wall's worth. That quartet signed four-year deals worth less than $50 million, and, with the exception of Curry, none of those young men are the flagship for their respective organizations.

(Shame on Curry and his agent for that, by the way.)

Is Wall better than any of those four? It's debatable, but Washington paid for promise, not performance.

Wall has played 184 games in his three-year NBA career. His numbers are pretty close to special at 16.9 ppg, 8.0 apg, 1.5 spg and even 4.4 rpg, which is a decent number for a point guard.

Last season was the defining moment in Wall's short tenure. If assessing his worth came down to wins and losses, Wall's Wizards were 5-28 in the first 33 games while he recovered from a knee injury. They went 24-25 with him in the lineup.

And his numbers improved. Wall posted career highs in points, free-throw percentage and field-goal percentage in the 2012-13 campaign. His turnovers were down to a low of 3.2 per game.

That number is still high and Wall's game is not a polished product. He's a world-class penetrator and decent facilitator, averaging an assist total that would've tied him for sixth in the NBA last season.

But Wall is a terrible perimeter shooter, especially from long range. He shot 26.7 percent from behind the three-point line last season and his career-best was 29 percent in his rookie year.

Wall has injury history, but is now healthy and explosive.

Does it all add up to a max deal? It probably does if you're the Wizards. Again, Wall is the face of the organization and that separates him from the Holidays, Teagues and Lawsons of the world.

"He is the cornerstone of our team, and we have clearly expressed our desire to build around him well before making it official by re-signing him today," Wizards Chairman, Majority Owner and CEO Ted Leonsis said in a statement on Wednesday. "We are extremely confident in his leadership abilities and are excited to see the continued improvement of the team."

The Wiz are building something and if you look at that 24-25 record late last season, one can assume Wall had a ton to do with it. Bradley Beal and Otto Porter Jr. were brought in the last two drafts. Those two, with Wall at the helm, provide Washington with a wing core for years to come.

And, in the pathetic Eastern Conference, well, after the Heat, Pacers, Bulls, Nets and Knicks, the Wizards could easily gain a playoff berth next season. They'll battle the Atlanta Hawks, Milwaukee Bucks, Detroit Pistons and Toronto Raptors for the final three spots and if you think Washington can't compete with them, you're nuts.

With veteran frontcourt players like Emeka Okafor, Nene and Martell Webster, who signed a flabbergasting four-year, $22 million contract in the offseason, Washington is a legit playoff threat.

Now, Wall is locked up as the franchise builds. Okafor, Trevor Ariza and their combined $22 million are off the books after next season.

Hello, possible max free agent. Great point guards make great players want to join.

Perhaps what's most interesting about Wall's deal isn't how it relates to the Wizards, but how it relates to the 2010 draft class, who are now eligible for extensions of their rookie deals.

The only other player in that draft class virtually assured a max contract is Paul George with the Indiana Pacers. The 10th pick in the '10 draft turned into an All-Star, two-way stud and will get paid.

Who else in that class gets max money?

The most obvious candidate is Sacramento Kings big man, DeMarcus Cousins. In his three-year career, Cousins has averages of 16.3 ppg and 9.8 rpg. Twenty- two-year-old bigs with those numbers are hard to come by, but of course, it's not that simple.

Cousins offers more headaches than the day after Mardi Gras. He led the NBA in technical fouls last season and has been suspended more than once, including a ban by the Kings for "unprofessional behavior and conduct detrimental to the team."

Does talent override attitude? It probably should. Cousins could mature still and those numbers for a big man, especially on a horrendous team, are too tantalizing.

What about the rest of that class?

Evan Turner was tabbed second by the Philadelphia 76ers. It's doubtful he'll get extended. He has talent and was used incorrectly by former head coach Doug Collins. However, Philly is selling everything short of the Liberty Bell and the recipe for cheesesteaks in order to rebuild completely.

Derrick Favors is going to be really good now that he will get starters' minutes with the Utah Jazz. But, max money? No way he's earned that or no way his potential warrants such at this time. He's no John Wall.

Greg Monroe is sort of close, but not there. Same goes for Larry Sanders, who has only enjoyed one season of noteworthy success.

Gordon Hayward? Eric Bledsoe? Avery Bradley? You know the answer to that.

We won't even broach the subject with disappointments like Wesley Johnson, Ed Davis or Ekpe Udoh.

Wall has set the standard. It's one that Washington now has to live with and one that will probably not set precedent for the class of the 2010 NBA Draft.

RANDOM THOUGHTS

- Jason Whitlock of Fox Sports reported that LeBron James is considering running for president of the NBA's players association. It's a huge commitment, one that James probably doesn't have time for, as Whitlock stated. However, the very fact that James is so interested in that aspect of business is a great thing. Having star power invested in the union is a huge asset, not only negotiating, but in terms of keeping members united.

- Still don't know what to make of the Detroit Pistons/Milwaukee Bucks swap. This I know - I like Milwaukee getting Brandon Knight, who was mussed around a bit in Detroit. They had him at the point, then moved him to off guard with the midseason trade for Jose Calderon, then moved him back to the point when the Pistons drafted Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, a natural shooting guard. Knight is so young that he's worth the investment for the Bucks. He'll continue to improve. Brandon Jennings can score and is a decent facilitator. He might be worth the risk for Detroit, but the ball should go through the bigs like Greg Monroe, Josh Smith and Andre Drummond. Is asking him to do that negating his biggest strength, his scoring?

- Mike D'Antoni told a Los Angeles radio program "ESPN L.A. Now," Dwight Howard's free-agent decision to leave Los Angeles was "mind-boggling a little bit ... Obviously he didn't think he would be as happy here as he will be in Houston." That actually should unboggle your mind, Mike. Sounds pretty clear. Anyone want to bet the Lakers have a better record than the Rockets next season? Of course not. Maybe another reason, Mike.

- People love to discount the Memphis Grizzlies this offseason. They traded for a legit backup big for both Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol in Kosta Koufos; signed shooter Mike Miller, who will help at the end of the season; re-signed Tony Allen, the best perimeter defender in the universe; and are apparently in the mix for both Mo Williams and Antawn Jamison. That's a bench right there and they got a steal with Jamaal Franklin in the second round to go along with returning Ed Davis, who showed glimpses in Toronto, and Jerryd Bayless. The loss of Lionel Hollins hurts, but they replaced him with his top assistant, Dave Joerger. Sign me up for Memphis. (If they bring in Williams and Jamison.)

- Movie moment - Dennis Farina's death last week inspired me to remember that "Midnight Run" was the first R-rated movie my parents let me watch. A couple (100 so) f' bombs didn't negate a hilarious, brilliantly acted comedy.

- Movie moment II - Eileen Brennan passed away this week and she's probably not well known by the younger crowd. But, as a child, I watched "Clue" so many times, I can absolutely still recite it word-for-word. She was the only Mrs. Peacock one could imagine -- at least based on the card from the board game.

- TV moment - "Parks and Recreation" is still my favorite show on TV. Rob Lowe and Rashida Jones leaving midseason hurts, but it's manageable. Now, if the show lost Chris Pratt and Aubrey Plaza, two young actors making their way in movies now, that could be a death blow. Also, the show may be ending after next season, so it could all be a wash.

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