by Chad Ford
Andrea Bargnani got a $50 million extension from the Raptors in July. Brandon Roy followed with a max $80 million extension in August. And his teammate, LaMarcus Aldridge, just agreed to a $65 million extension on Wednesday evening.
But so far the rest of the first-round draft Class of 2006 has been totally out of luck.
Yes, Paul Millsap, the 47th pick in the '06 draft, cashed in this summer. But he did it the old-fashioned way as a restricted free agent.
With an Oct. 31 deadline to get an extension done looming, the rest of the Class of 2006 is still waiting by the phone.
The lack of extensions is fairly unprecedented. A whopping 16 players drafted in the first round of 2003 NBA draft received contract extensions. The Class of 2004 scored 10 extensions. The Class of 2005 fared a little worse with just seven extensions.
But with just 10 days to go before the deadline, it looks like the Class of '06 will set an all-time low.
Blame some of it on the economy. Blame the rest on what's turned out to be a very weak class.
"There just isn't the money that there used to be," one prominent agent told ESPN.com. "Teams aren't handing over guaranteed deals the way they used to."
Countered an NBA GM, "Have you looked at the draft class? How many of the guys drafted that year deserve extensions?"
A few do.
The Celtics' Rajon Rondo has become a potential All-Star after just three years in the league. However, head coach Doc Rivers and GM Danny Ainge have been pretty harsh toward Rondo over the course of the summer. The Celtics actually attempted to trade Rondo before the draft.
While there's still a chance that the two sides agree to an extension, a source close to the process told me it's unlikely. Rondo wants All-Star money and the Celtics aren't convinced he'll handle a five-year guaranteed deal well. It’s a classic maturity-vs.-talent battle that the Celtics may ultimately lose.
The Grizzlies’ Rudy Gay is another player who has played very well in his first three seasons. However, the Grizzlies are notoriously tight with money and the word is that their early offers to Gay have been “underwhelming.” No surprise there.
The Bulls’ Tyrus Thomas has shown flashes of brilliance in his first three years. However, his inconsistency combined with his hard-headedness makes it difficult to ascertain his value. On upside, he’s a potential $70 million player. But his uneven performance on the court leaves too many questions.
Unless Thomas decides to sign a deal in the $40 million range, I think he’ll play this thing out, try to have a breakout year and then recoup his money in restricted free agency this summer.
A few other players including the Jazz’s Ronnie Brewer, the Rockets’ Kyle Lowry and the Wizards' Randy Foye might get deals done, but they won’t be for huge numbers.
The rest of the class? Ugh.
Adam Morrison went No. 3 and has been a major bust. Shelden Williams, the No. 5 pick in the draft, didn’t even get his rookie option picked up and signed for the minimum with the Celtics this summer. The No. 9 pick, Patrick O’Bryant, is barely hanging on with the Raptors after being dumped just two seasons into his career by the Warriors. The No. 10 pick, Saer Sene? He’s already out of the league.