Unusual Timing Marks Jonas Valanciunas Deal

That the Raptors signed Jonas Valanciunas to an extension was no surprise, and the deal’s $16MM average annual value, while high compared to the salaries that other, similarly skilled centers are making, isn’t causing too much of a stir in an increasingly lucrative market for player salaries. Perhaps the most eye-catching element of the extension is its timing.

The Valanciunas deal, while pricey, is for far less than the projected $20.4MM maximum for players with his level of experience next season, when the extension would kick in. That puts it in the minority among rookie scale extensions signed prior to October, the last month of the annual window for these extensions that opens at the end of the July Moratorium and closes on Halloween. This year, October 31st falls on a Saturday, so the deadline is November 2nd.

Seven of the 12 rookie scale extensions signed in July, August or September since the 2011 collective bargaining agreement went into place have been for the maximum salary. Serge Ibaka was the first to sign an early extension for less than the max, taking about $49MM over four years when he inked his extension in August 2012. Trouble has befallen the others to follow in his footsteps, however. Larry Sanders was out of the league less than a season into the four-year, $44MM extension he signed with the Bucks in August 2013, and the Morris twins, who signed their extensions with the Suns last September, have become disgruntled over the trade that sent Marcus Morris to the Pistons.

The Raptors no doubt envision a better outcome with Valanciunas, but the more significant aspect of the timing of their deal is Toronto’s forfeiture of the chance to see if the center would take less with the deadline bearing down on him. The pressure of final-hour negotiations may well have caused the Raptors to blink instead, but it’s clear from the willingness of the sides to act now that both team and player are satisfied with the $64MM figure.

Here’s a look at the max extensions signed in July, August or September under the current collective bargaining agreement. Note that these include extensions in which players made concessions pursuant to the Derrick Rose rule that prevented them from seeing the 30% max, as was the case with the Pacers and Paul George. As long as the deal was worth at least the 25% max, it’s listed here:

Here are the non-max early rookie scale extensions over that same timeframe:

The RealGM transactions log was used in the creation of this post.

Do you think the terms of the Valanciunas extension would have been different if he and the Raptors had waited until the deadline in the fall? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.

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