The Bucks have signed John Henson to an extension, the team announced. Marc Stein of ESPN.com reported earlier that the sides had struck a four-year deal worth about $45MM (Twitter link), and USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt heard that Henson put pen to paper this morning (Twitter link). Henson told Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times earlier this week that he and the team were close to a deal. The package will give the Jim Tanner client between $44MM and $48MM, depending on whether he triggers incentive clauses, according to sources who spoke with Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). A signing bonus is included and the deal is front-loaded to offset the effect that any work stoppage in 2017 might have, Wojnarowski writes in a full story, though the likelihood of a work stoppage appears to be in decline.
Those figures are similar to the last rookie scale extension Milwaukee signed, when the team gave fellow big man Larry Sanders a four-year, $44MM deal two years ago. That didn’t work out so well for the Bucks as Sanders suffered injuries and a drug problem and lost his desire to play the game, leading to a buyout midway through the first year of that extension. The team is optimistic that Henson won’t travel the same path, and GM John Hammond recently identified the 24-year-old as one of six core players for the franchise. That’s in spite of the limited playing time that Henson has seen. The former 14th overall pick averaged just 18.3 minutes per game this past season.
“We’re thrilled to get this deal done to keep John in a Bucks uniform for years to come,” Hammond said in the team’s statement. “Since we drafted him in 2012, John has made an impact on this team, especially on the defensive end, and he is an integral part of our future. We’re looking forward to continuing to watch his development as we work to become a championship-caliber team.”
The vagaries of front-loading and the attached incentives make it tricky to peg just how much Henson will make in 2016/17, when the extension kicks in, but the Bucks otherwise have only about $49MM in commitments for that season, assuming they pick up $13.3MM in pending rookie scale team options. That leaves no shortage of room underneath a projected $89MM cap. Coach Jason Kidd pointed to Henson’s ability to mesh with others.
“We’re excited for John and for our organization as we continue to build a consistent winner,” Kidd said in the statement. “John is a great teammate, plays unselfishly and has worked very hard to develop into a top-tier defender. We look forward to many great years together with him.”
Talks surrounding an extension for Henson appeared to be gathering momentum in July and were still on track as of August, though it took until after the start of training camp for the sides to strike a deal. That’s still well in advance of this year’s deadline, which is November 2nd instead of the usual October 31st because that date falls on a Saturday. Miles Plumlee, whom the Bucks acquired from the Suns at the trade deadline in February, is also eligible for a rookie scale extension between now and November 2nd, but no reports have emerged indicating that the team is considering one for him.
Henson has drawn interest from other teams who’ve wanted to trade for him over the years, as Stein notes in a full story, and while Milwaukee was reportedly offering him around at the deadline this past winter, it seemed he was only available if a suitor was willing to pay a hefty price. He averaged 2.0 blocks per game this past season in spite of his limited playing time, though other numbers raise doubt about his value, as I noted when I looked in-depth at Henson’s extension candidacy. I nonetheless concluded that speculation from Grantland’s Zach Lowe that Henson would end up with eight-figure salaries wasn’t unreasonable, and as it turns out, that’s just what he’ll get.
Do you think the Bucks are making a wise move with Henson’s extension? Leave a comment to let us know.