When Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports reported a month ago that Jrue Holiday would be seeking a maximum extension this offseason, the reactions across the board were fairly similar. The consensus: Good luck with that. While Holiday is evolving into a solid point guard and has made strides since debuting for the 76ers in 2009, his production to date doesn't seem worthy of a maximum salary. But what sort of price tag could the Sixers be facing if they decide to sign Holiday to a long-term deal in the next few months? Let's take a look….
After averaging 14.0 points and 6.5 assists per game in 2010/11, Holiday's numbers regressed slightly in 2011/12, to 13.5 points and 4.5 assists. However, he's proven to be durable, starting all but one game in the last two seasons for the Sixers. And considering he's just turned 22, you have to think Holiday's slight step back this past season is just a blip on the radar, and that he'll continue to improve rather than heading in the other direction.
Still, if he hopes to sign an extension, Holiday has to recognize that the Sixers can't just pay for his potential upside. The team's potential contract offer will take into account the 6'3" guard's career production to date. So perhaps it would be useful to compare Holiday's numbers to those of a couple other young point guards. Mike Conley signed a long-term extension with the Grizzlies after three seasons in the league in 2010, and Ty Lawson is eligible for an extension with the Nuggets this summer, as he heads into his fourth year. Here are a few career averages for the three guards as they headed into the final years of their rookie contracts:
Although many of these numbers look awfully similar across the board, it's not hard to see that Lawson's efficient play gives him the advantage over the rest of the group. And while Holiday's rates compare favorably to Conley's, they don't suggest that he has a huge leg up on the Grizzlies' point guard.
Now, there are other factors to consider — Conley was nearly a year older than Holiday at the same points in their careers, and the former Buckeye signed his contract under a different Collective Bargaining Agreement. Nonetheless, it's hard to see why Holiday should receive much more than the five years and $40MM that Conley received on his first long-term deal. Particularly when an extension for Lawson, which I previewed last week, figures to be worth less than the max, perhaps $11-12MM annually. If Conley landed $8MM per year and Lawson can get $11-12MM, it makes sense that Holiday should fall somewhere in between the two. Something in the neighborhood of four years and $40MM for Holiday could work for both him and the Sixers.
The Sixers and Holiday's representatives will have plenty of time to negotiate an extension between now and the start of the season on October 30th, and I'd expect Philadelphia to make an offer close to the four years and $40MM I'm suggesting. But it wouldn't surprise me to see Holiday decline that offer and play out the season. If he keeps improving in 2012/13, it will only boost his stock, and could potentially earn him a more lucrative offer sheet from a rival team next summer, when he hits restricted free agency.
He may not be a maximum-salary player, but Holiday is a good bet to sign a very lucrative deal within the next year. Whether that happens this offseason or next summer, with the Sixers or another club, remains to be seen.