Community Shootaround: Rookie Scale Extension Candidates

Caris LeVert‘s contract agreement with the Nets on Sunday marked the third time this offseason that a player eligible for a rookie scale extension has reached a deal with his team.

Heading into July, 20 players were eligible for rookie scale extensions. So far, Ben Simmons, Jamal Murray, and LeVert have received them, leaving 17 players still up in the air. Not all of those players are legitimate candidates for new deals, but many of them figure to enter negotiations with their respective clubs, and they still have plenty of time to work something out before the October 21 deadline.

Rookie scale extensions haven’t been completed quite as frequently within the last couple years as they were in the past, but five deals were reached last year and four occurred in 2017. In other words, we can probably count on at least one or two more happening before the 2019/20 season begins.

Pascal Siakam (Raptors), Domantas Sabonis (Pacers), Buddy Hield (Kings), and Jaylen Brown (Celtics) are among the most productive players who remain eligible for rookie scale extensions. Their teams would certainly like to lock them up long-term, but it might be in the players’ best interests to wait.

After all, if any of their teams were willing to put a max contract on the table right now though, a deal would likely already be done — that’s why Simmons and Murray didn’t waste much time in agreeing to their new pacts. And while a max contract may not be waiting in free agency for the likes of Sabonis, Hield, and Brown, the 2020 unrestricted free agent class projects to be weak. There could very well be teams willing to overpay on huge offer sheets for the top restricted free agents.

The Pelicans seem unlikely to invest heavily in Brandon Ingram before he suits up in a single game for the franchise, but a bridge deal like the one LeVert is signing with Brooklyn could make sense for another player who has dealt with health issues: Dejounte Murray. This offseason might be the Spurs‘ best chance to lock up Murray at a team-friendly rate, since he appeared poised for a breakout before tearing his ACL last fall.

Dario Saric (Suns), Taurean Prince (Nets), and Damian Jones (Hawks) are the other extension-eligible players who changed teams this offseason — new deals seem like long shots unless their clubs really like what they see in the preseason.

Role players who could sign modest rookie scale extensions if the price is right include Malik Beasley (Nuggets), Juan Hernangomez (Nuggets), Thon Maker (Pistons), DeAndre’ Bembry (Hawks), and Jakob Poeltl (Spurs).

Bulls guards Kris Dunn and Denzel Valentine and Trail Blazers big man Skal Labissiere are the remaining players eligible for rookie scale extensions. Valentine is the best extension candidate of the three, but I’d be surprised if any one of them signs a new deal.

What do you think? Are more rookie scale extensions are on the way before the season begins? Which of the eligible players do you think are most likely to sign new deals, and what would a fair price be in those cases?

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