Much has been said about former UK stars John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins’ upcoming contract negotiations and the chance that they receive an extension before becoming free agents next summer; what hasn’t been looked at, however, is the rarity that is a contract extension for an NBA player still playing under his rookie contract. The fine people over at Hoops Hype took a look at the last decade of draft picks to check out who has gotten extensions before their rookie deal was up and the numbers are pretty interesting. First, they found that only 24% of players drafted in the first round ended up getting an extension, meaning not everyone is destined for stardom that is drafted. Second, only 2 players selected no. 2 in the last 10 years have signed an extension, while 3 players drafted in the 27th spot have gotten extensions, proving that drafting past no.1 really can be a crapshoot.
There is a lot more to look at in the article, including a nice table to lay it out for you visually, but for UK fans the most interesting part will be whether or not Wall and Cousins will be added to that list. Both players have had their fair share of issues during their short careers (Wall’s being health-related and Cousins becoming Cousins as Charlie Coles would say) but both played well down the stretch to regain momentum in their favor for an extension. A healthy Wall is a dangerous Wall, something the Wizards realize, considering reports are out they have opened talks with Wall on an extension. The Wizards do not want to be the team that let John Wall go only to watch him become All-NBA for the next decade. In the King’s case, a change of ownership and a revolving head coaching vacancy has produced an environment where fans have questioned whether Cousins would be back in Sacramento for next season. That was somewhat laid to rest as the Kings GM and Head Coach flew to Alabama to talk with Cousins about remaining with the team. Cousins has proved he can play and everyone has talked of his attitude ad nauseum; he can be unstoppable when everything falls into place, as I believe it will. If I were guessing, don’t be surprised if both players find themselves in mountains of money, securing long-term futures with both of their respective organizations.
Coach Calipari likes to talk a lot about his success rate in putting college players into the NBA, as he should. Another distinction that should be credited to his coaching philosophy, if indeed extensions are on the horizon for Wall and Cousins, is his ability to put players in successful long-term financial situations while cementing their draft stock as cornerstones of the franchises that select them. The 2010 class of players are the next ones up for rookie extensions, meaning Derrick Rose is the only current Calipari-coached player who has been extended. This could all change, however, in two or three years, as more and more of Kentucky’s drafted players get to the end of their contracts and are looking for max deals; it is hard for me to believe that players like Anthony Davis, MKG and Nerlens will not receive extensions. Speaking of Davis, it pays to go #1; seven of the 2000-20009 draft classes’ no. 1 picks have received a rookie contract extension. Oh, and in case you were wondering, the last UK player to receive such an extension is Rajon Rondo, who was drafted no. 21 in 2006.
Which Players on Rookie Deals Got Extensions? [Hoops Hype]