Contract-year phenomenon is still a big deal

Contract-year phenomenon is still a big deal

even Walker didn’t see this superstar turn coming.)’ data-reactid=”59″>It is difficult to decipher whether Walker’s jump is the result of a 28-year-old entering the apex of a career spent working to max capacity or an All-Star putting finding new ways to elevate his , but that extra step could elevate his max contract from roughly $190 million to a supermax $235 million over the next five seasons, so long as the Charlotte Hornets are willing to meet the asking price of a player who up until this season had been a borderline All-Star and the de facto franchise player on a lottery team. (Read ESPN’s Zach Lowe on how even Walker didn’t see this superstar turn coming.)

Tobias Harris: As old friend Dan Devine wrote for The Ringer recently, the Los Angeles Clippers are the rare team full of players who decidedly do not stink, and Harris has been the best of the bunch. His 21 points and 8.5 rebounds per game, along with his shooting percentages (50.8 percent from the field and 41.6 percent from 3-point range), are all career highs, just in time for another fat paycheck in 2019.’ data-reactid=”61″>Tobias Harris: As old friend Dan Devine wrote for The Ringer recently, the Los Angeles Clippers are the rare team full of players who decidedly do not stink, and Harris has been the best of the bunch. His 21 points and 8.5 rebounds per game, along with his shooting percentages (50.8 percent from the field and 41.6 percent from 3-point range), are all career highs, just in time for another fat paycheck in 2019.

Harris’ last contract followed The Contract Year Phenomenon to a tee. After signing a four-year, $64 million extension with the Orlando Magic in 2015, he took a step back in Year 1 of that deal, got shipped to the Detroit Pistons, and then steadily progressed into peak form in time for the next deal. A lot of that is the natural progression of a player entering his prime, but the Clippers have to wonder whether Harris will continue to be an All-Star-caliber forward or the very good one he was before.

Nikola Vucevic: An empty stats monster for the first seven years of his career, Vucevic is playing like one of the 25 best players in the league through the first two months of this season, anchoring a team currently in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. His 21 points per game are easily his highest-ever average, and he’s shooting 41.3 percent from distance after entering this year as a career 30.8 percent 3-point shooter — numbers that put a guy who was once Enes Kanter Light into a conversation with the likes of Kevin Durant and Karl-Anthony Towns. He is easily this season’s Contract Year MVP.’ data-reactid=”68″>Nikola Vucevic: An empty stats monster for the first seven years of his career, Vucevic is playing like one of the 25 best players in the league through the first two months of this season, anchoring a team currently in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. His 21 points per game are easily his highest-ever average, and he’s shooting 41.3 percent from distance after entering this year as a career 30.8 percent 3-point shooter — numbers that put a guy who was once Enes Kanter Light into a conversation with the likes of Kevin Durant and Karl-Anthony Towns. He is easily this season’s Contract Year MVP.

2018-19 Contract Year All-Stars Second Team

Julius Randle: Upon failing to find the big money he sought as a restricted free agent this past July, Randle signed a two-year deal with an option to reenter free agency and cash in after this season. His 18.6 points per game and 62.1 true shooting percentage for the New Orleans Pelicans even exceed the numbers he put up on bad Los Angeles Lakers teams through his first four seasons. In doing so, he may be proving a theory that likely led many teams to hold back a long-term offer, which is that Randle is the kind of player who could be more motivated by the carrot stick of that next contract.’ data-reactid=”72″>Julius Randle: Upon failing to find the big money he sought as a restricted free agent this past July, Randle signed a two-year deal with an option to reenter free agency and cash in after this season. His 18.6 points per game and 62.1 true shooting percentage for the New Orleans Pelicans even exceed the numbers he put up on bad Los Angeles Lakers teams through his first four seasons. In doing so, he may be proving a theory that likely led many teams to hold back a long-term offer, which is that Randle is the kind of player who could be more motivated by the carrot stick of that next contract.

Wiggins has fallen off a cliff after showing serious signs of improvement in the walk-up to his $148 million deal.’ data-reactid=”100″>The Timberwolves and Magic were surely optimistic about Andrew Wiggins and Aaron Gordon after each showed significant signs of progression in the final years of his rookie contract. Minnesota rewarded Wiggins with a max extension prior to last season, and Orlando handed Gordon a four-year, $80 million deal over the summer. The latter’s performance hasn’t followed the upward trajectory the Magic would have liked, but his production has remained fairly comparable. We can debate whether Gordon is worth the salary he earned after a career year, but there is no denying that Wiggins has fallen off a cliff after showing serious signs of improvement in the walk-up to his $148 million deal.

The scarcity of the long-term NBA contract

Gordon is one of few non-stars who earned a long-term contract this past summer. There are a number of reasons for this, namely that teams have had little money to spend following the 2016 cap explosion, when the likes of Timofey Mozgov and Evan Turner were rewarded ridiculously for having promising contract years, and players are hoping to cash in when the cap boons to $109 million next season and $118 million in 2020. There are several Contract Year Phenomena that are resulting.

For one, more players have been in contract years more often. Players are required to remain at peak performance to leverage a series of shorter-term deals. This is good business for personal trainers, as more than half the league is slotted to enter free agency in 2019. In an ideal world, having so many players in top shape should translate into a better league, but this doesn’t always have the desired effect. There are only so many minutes and and there is only so much money to go around, creating some tricky situations for teams trying to satisfy so many players who want to maximize their value.

When contract years go wrong

his desire to be a starter, and reports about his frustration level have become more frequent. The pressure of performing in a contract year can take on many forms, not all of which are great.’ data-reactid=”106″>Rozier’s forthcoming contract negotiations are undoubtedly an underlying factor. He has been open about his desire to be a starter, and reports about his frustration level have become more frequent. The pressure of performing in a contract year can take on many forms, not all of which are great.

whatever the heck Golden State Warriors guard Pat McCaw is doing right now.’ data-reactid=”108″>Then, there’s whatever the heck Golden State Warriors guard Pat McCaw is doing right now.

Most everyone in the NBA believes they’re worth more than they’re being paid, which is part of what got them here in the first place. It’s hard to prove your value when you’re not playing, and that same competitiveness produces varying outcomes when the opportunity arises. Some rise to the occasion, others stumble in its face, and the worst of the lot mails it in when the ink dries on that next deal.

Ben Rohrbach is a staff writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! ‘ data-reactid=”111″>Ben Rohrbach is a staff writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach

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