Fresh off his first NBA All-Star season, Zach Randolph wants a contract extension. He has one year left on his deal with Memphis at $17.3 million. He’s also a suspected drug trafficker without a great track record as a teammate and has a penchant for piling up stats on lousy teams. So basically, the Grizzlies will probably give him five years for about $75 million.
All jokes aside, Z-Bo’s value may be higher now than it ever will be again, so he’s looking to cash in before the predicted lockout in 2011.
Jamal Crawford, the reigning Sixth Man of the Year, is also pining for a re-up with his Atlanta Hawks for a few more years. Watch for a lot of this during this season:
Player X: “I’d like an extension … I’m playing well and there’s too much unknown next summer…”
NBA Team: “Why should we hand out an extension now? Let’s wait so we can (probably) save money…”
While it’s too complicated to try and guess how much each team and player will take the potential lockout into consideration, let’s break down 10 guys who should be in line for a lucrative extension before next season. Each of these guys either has an expiring contract next summer, has a player-option on their current deal, or is in position to become a restricted free agent:
Arron Afflalo (Nuggets) — The former UCLA star proved himself last year in his first extended time as a starter. Affalo is a perfect fit on Denver next to some of their bigger names; he hits open shots and defends Kobe Bryant as well as anyone.
Carmelo Anthony (Nuggets) — Do I even need to say why? Imagine what will happen to this team if ‘Melo bolts.
Corey Brewer (T’wolves) — Brewer had a surprising third season. After his first two years had him pegged as a bust, he ended last year at 13 points per game and 1.4 steals a game while starting all 82 games. Similar to Afflalo, Brewer is a perfect role player. If they don’t lock him up for the next four or five years on a new contract, someone else probably will.
Aaron Brooks (Rockets) — Houston showed a lot of faith in the young point guard when they traded away then-starter Rafer Alston to let Brooks run the show. He rewarded them this past season by averaging just under 20 points and over five assists per game. With the return (hopefully) of Yao Ming, Brooks’ profile will rise once again. If healthy, the Rockets look like a definite playoff team. The former Oregon Duck stands as their best shot-creator and needs to be locked up.
Glen Davis (Celtics) — Ironically, Kendrick Perkins will also be looking for an extension. But coming off his major knee injury, Boston will want to see whether their center is healthy first. That makes sub Big Baby even more valuable. Davis has proved over the last two years (2009 playoffs and at times in the 2010 Finals) that he can be a great seventh man on a championship contender. For that, the Celtics should be looking to keep him around for at least a few more years.
Jeff Green (Thunder) — Green gives Oklahoma City so much versatility with his ability to play at the four. And while he will never be more than a third banana on a title-contending team, the Thunder must keep him around. Not only do his teammates love him, but also Green does all of the little things to complement Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. GM Sam Presti is too smart to not figure this out.
Al Horford (Hawks) — One of the better young big men in the League, Horford has been playing out of position his entire career in the pivot but still puts up All-Star numbers. The market for young, unselfish and athletic power players is small, so Horford could be looking at a big pay increase sometime soon. Hopefully, the Hawks position themselves to keep the 24-year-old on the team.
Nene (Nuggets) — Similar to Horford’s situation, Denver relies on their bigs to use their athleticism and toughness. With an already thin frontcourt and Kenyon Martin’s contract coming off the team’s payroll, and his future up in the air, Nene should be their cornerstone inside. One way of showing Melo you care is to give Nene an extension after coming off his two best seasons.
Marcus Thornton (Hornets) — The Hornets’ guard had a surprising first year by averaging 14.5 points a game. Besides Chris Paul, Thornton is the team’s best offensive creator. He is one of the best bargains in the League right now and is definitely playing with a chip on his shoulder. Who knows how he will play once he finally gets that big payday, but the Hornets can’t let someone else come in and offer him more.
David West (Hornets) — The only way CP sticks around is if both West and Thornton are around long-term. West has the offensive skills to play off of Paul and hopefully realizes what the duo has together. He isn’t making a lot of money and is turning 30 soon, but New Orleans should try to bring him back for another three or four years. If they lose either one of these guys, their decline will continue and CP will probably be out.