While Memphis sorts out its spacing issues on the floor, the front office took a step Thursday toward locking up a valued long-range shooter.
With the deadline looming, the Grizzlies will sign forward Quincy Pondexter to a four-year extension, according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal. CSSN NW reported that Pondexter's deal will be worth $14 million, making it comparable in average annual salary to the free-agent contracts signed by Cleveland's Earl Clark, Dallas' Wayne Ellington, Atlanta's DeMarre Carroll and Milwaukee's Carlos Delfino.
If completed, Pondexter would be the sixth member of the 2010 class to be extended this year -- and the most affordable by a long shot. Besides Pondexter, five other 2010 first-round picks have landed extensions that will kick in next season. Wizards point guard John Wall and Pacers small forward Paul George signed max deals as "designated players," worth upwards of $80 million over five years. Kings center DeMarcus Cousins got $62 million on a four-year deal, the maximum allowed to any non-designated player. Jazz big man Derrick Favors and Bucks center Larry Sanders both agreed to more moderate deals, with Favors signing for four years at $49 million and Sanders extending his contract for four years at $44 million.
Gordon Hayward has also reportedly discussed a substantial extension with the Jazz, per ESPN.com, though no agreement has been reached. According to the latest update from Yahoo! Sports, the two parties still "have a long way to go."
The deadline for 2010 first-round picks to sign extensions is Thursday at 11:59 p.m. ET. Players who don't receive new deals would be set to become restricted free agents next summer.
Pondexter, the 26th pick in 2010, is not a foundational piece for the Grizzlies, but he's a 3-and-D type to complement an established core. He's valuable as one of the Grizzlies' few shooters consistent enough to command defensive attention -- so much so, apparently, that Memphis didn't want to risk letting him hit the market. Instead, both parties benefit from a four-year commitment struck at a fair cost. His deal is an important reminder that the likelihood of an extension hinges less on how good a player is an abstract sense, and more on how said player's contributions measure up against both his projected value and desired contract. For a player like Hayward, the stakes are dramatically higher. A do-it-all wing of his caliber is sure to have free-spending suitors next summer, requiring Hayward and his agent to more carefully weigh the benefits of extending now as opposed to waiting for a potentially bigger deal. Pondexter could play a similar waiting game, but he wouldn't be likely to get dramatically more than what Memphis has reportedly offered here.