Taj Gibson

NBA Extensions

Midnight marked the deadline for rookies from the 2009 NBA Draft to work out an extension with their teams. The Thunder couldn’t reach an agreement with James Harden and now he’s in Houston. In less publicized news, however, several other notable players from that draft class worked out deals just before the deadline.

DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors: 4 years, $40 million

DeRozan’s reputation around the NBA has largely remained constant since his days as a draft prospect. He is blessed with tremendous physical tools, can be an explosive scorer, and if he ever makes the jump to being a 22 ppg guy and do it while being more efficient, he could be the starting shooting guard on a decent team. However, none of this has happened. He remains a talented young player, but without almost any indication he will become more efficient, he is more likely to end up like an early-career Jason Richardson than the centerpiece (or even second option) on a good team. If he doesn’t make the jump this year with an outstanding point guard (Kyle Lowry) and solid supporting cast, he may not go to any level beyond that.

Judging the contract is a little hard since post-Lockout GMs/Owners seem to be just as dumb with contracts as pre-Lockout GMs/Owners. In free agency, DeRozan likely would have received this offer from someone. The Raptors re-signing him likely means that the Raptors were also unwilling to find a trade partner. Just off the top of my head, there are a few teams that would at least field serious offers about DeRozan. The Bucks would likely be interested in re-uniting their current franchise centerpiece (Brandon Jennings) with his childhood running mate. There are certainly enough pieces to make this work, but I think the bottom line is that Toronto wants to win now. They aren’t interested in re-shuffling the deck in hopes of a better mix. Frankly, I agree with them. I have little to no interest in paying DeRozan 10m per year, but they are a pretty solid team right now and they will likely make the playoffs this year.

Jrue Holiday, Phildelphia 76ers: 4 years, $41 million

Jrue is in a somewhat similar situation to DeRozan. He is still young, still has plenty of upside, but he hasn’t made much progress year-to-year. He is a fairly important part of the 76ers plans moving forward, and I suppose continuity is worth some extra money, but he just doesn’t do the things you think he’d do. He is extremely athletic but doesn’t get to the rim in the halfcourt often or get to the line (1.8 FTA/game last year). The Sixers offense liked to run a lot last year, but he still didn’t rack up assists in those minutes. Stats are not everything, but on a team that struggled offensively last year, you’d think he would take a bigger role.

Maybe the best way to view Jrue is alongside two point guards who did not get their extensions: Darren Collison and Brandon Jennings. In Indiana, Collison was a speedy, smart point guard who (until the Orlando series) was slightly subpar on defense and was just kind of underwhelming. He would have magnificent stretches where he would hit his mid-range jumper and be aggressive and make the Pacers offense unstoppable. But for much longer stretches he’d struggle with his mid-range pull-up jumper, lose his aggression and find ways to not make full use of his skill set. When the Pacers swapped him (indirectly) for D.J. Augustin, they got a player who was not as good, but who could utilize his skill set more efficiently than Collison did. I do not watch enough 76ers games to state this outright, but Jrue strikes me as another guy with a skill set he doesn’t use efficiently.

Brandon Jennings didn’t get his extension either. He is a quick, sometimes explosive, guard with a very underrated game as a creator. The defensive-reputation of the Bucks sometimes overshadows that for long stretches last season, the Bucks were an outstanding offensive team, particularly with their passing. Jennings’ inconsistent jump shot and inability to finish in the lane (probably a height and loss-of-hops problem) have been well-documented but not nearly as well as his consistency in running the offense and being a productive player. BUT, once again the issue is efficiency. Can Brandon Jennings do his job on this team? Absolutely. Could a lesser player execute the same sets and bring similar skills at a much lower price? Yes.

That’s what it comes down to for Jrue. This contract is a hope that he becomes a player who can utilize his skill set better and jump up a level in the point guard hierarchy, but if that doesn’t happen, this contract will look fairly bad in 3 years.

Taj Gibson, Chicago Bulls: 4 years, $32 million guaranteed w/ 6 million in incentives extra possible (thus the reporting of 4/38m)

Gee, I wonder who has been teaching Gibson how to yell……

Taj Gibson’s deal is a complete departure from the last two guys we talked about. The Bulls frankly couldn’t afford to let Gibson go, and yet they took a very hard line with him. It is no secret that Bulls fans hate Carlos Boozer and that the Bulls have very little interest in keeping him around. Gibson is probably the better player right now even though Chicago’s likely offensive struggles this year will be slightly ameliorated by Boozer’s presence. On the open market, I would think Gibson could get a Millsap-type deal. His offensive game isn’t as refined as Millsap, but his defense is much better and the value of each is likely similar in free agency. I think Bulls fans would have been happy to extend him for 4 years, $48 million, but they got a discount, so a small round of applause for the penny-pinching Reinsdorf.

Other Things I Wanted To Comment On

All-NBA 2012 Second Round Draft Picks

PG: Tyshawn Taylor (BKN)- There weren’t a ton of PGs in the second round that will see significant minutes and I didn’t see Isaiah Thomas (SAC) on this list.

SG: Doron Lamb (MIL)- Plenty of minutes and I am betting on a Monta Ellis trade.

SF: Jae Crowder (DAL)- Hustle, muscle, decent shooting. Marquette connections had to influence on this pick.

SF (because I didn’t want to pick a PF): Darius Miller (NO)- Should see minutes on an exciting team. If I had to pick a PF, it would be Kris Joseph, but he won’t see enough time.

F/C: Kyle O’Quinn (ORL)- Someone has to play well for them, right?

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2010-11 NBA Preview: Central Division

Chicago Bulls (41-41 last season)

Most liked in Chicago since Michael Jordan?

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Derrick Rose

Shooting Guard: Ronnie Brewer

Small Forward: Luol Deng

Power Forward: Carlos Boozer

Center: Joakim Noah

Key Reserves:

Guard-Forward: Kyle Korver

Guard-Forward: Keith Bogans

Forward: Taj Gibson

Derrick Rose is the man!  1st season: Rookie of the Year.  2nd season: All-Star.  3rd season?  It’s anyone’s guess to how good Rose can be.  Speculation is that a three point shot is in the works for him as well.  I’m excited to see the leadership he will bring to this Bulls’ offense.  Taj Gibson is also going to have to play well for the first couple of months as Carlos Boozer recovers from his broken hand.  The last interesting point I have for this team is who will end up taking the shooting guard position.  Ronnie Brewer is good all-around and Kyle Korver has the shooting stroke, but can either make the spot his own?  Regardless, Bulls win their division.

Milwaukee Bucks (46-36 last season)

A new lefty has risen in Milwaukee, sorry Michael Redd.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Brandon Jennings

Shooting Guard: John Salmons

Small Forward: Corey Maggette

Power Forward: Drew Gooden

Center: Andrew Bogut

Key Reserves:

Guard: Keyon Dooling

Guard-Forward: Chris Douglas-Roberts

Forward: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute

The toughest part for this team will be buying into a rotation that will gel on the court.  The Bucks are really deep and this is among one of the better problems one could talk about.  The key for this squad to excel is Andrew Bogut.  If he can come back strong from the injury he endured last season, I believe the Bucks have a legitimate shot at the second round.  Also, the continued development of Brandon Jennings will sure be fun to watch.  This kid is still very raw and still has a broken shot, but he is only going to improve and become a top point guard in the league.

Indiana Pacers (32-50 last season)

Thanks to the CP3 injury, Collison has a starting job.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Darren Collison

Shooting Guard: Mike Dunleavy

Small Forward: Danny Granger

Power Forward: Tyler Hansbrough

Center: Roy Hibbert

Key Reserves:

Guard: T.J. Ford

Forward: Paul George

Center: Jeff Foster

This team is my sleeper for the year.  Everyone has them finishing 4th or 5th in the division, but I feel that if they can stay healthy and Danny Granger plays like he did in last season, except for 82 games, and Darren Collison also plays like last season, they have a shot at the 8th seed.  Call me insane, but this is my crazy pick for the year.  Also be on the alert for Roy Hibbert to have a breakout year.  He could possibly be a good candidate for the Most Improved Player award.

Cleveland Cavaliers (61-21 last season)

From LeBron James to Jamario Moon. Good luck Cleveland.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Mo Williams

Shooting Guard: Daniel Gibson

Small Forward: Jamario Moon

Power Forward: Antawn Jamison

Center: Anderson Varejao

Key Reserves:

Guard: Anthony Parker

Forward: J.J. Hickson

Forward: Leon Powe

A natural disaster struck Cleveland and it was the loss of LeBron James.  A miracle needs to happen for this team to make the playoffs.  Yeah, they have Mo Williams, Antawn Jamison and Anderson Varejao, but without LeBron they are nothing.  Almost 30 points per game is lost and there isn’t anyone good enough to fill that spot.  I’m sorry Cleveland, but get ready for a rough year.

Detroit Pistons (27-55 last season)

Please prove me wrong, because I loved you, T-Mac!

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Rodney Stuckey

Shooting Guard: Richard Hamilton

Small Forward: Tayshaun Prince

Power Forward: Charlie Villanueva

Center: Ben Wallace

Key Reserves:

Guard: Will Bynum

Guard: Ben Gordon

Forward: Austin Daye

I have no faith in this team.  Something about them just doesn’t rub me the right way.  Charlie Villanueva had an abysmal debut year in Detroit and injuries plagued them all year long and into this preseason.  Ben Wallace is nowhere near to where he used to be as a player back in the glory days of the Pistons, and Rodney Stuckey does not have the playmaking ability to lead this team.  Maybe they won’t finish last in the division, but they sure aren’t making the playoffs for a while with the transactions they are making. Cough, Tracy McGrady, Cough. Washed up!