DALLAS - Josh Richardson, we hardly knee ye?
J-Rich is clearly delighted to be a member of the Dallas Mavs, and the Mavs feel the same way about the pairing, the result of the recent NBA Draft-night trade that brought him here from Philadelphia in exchange for Seth Curry.
Richardson is also elated to be teamed with Luka Doncic, recently saying, “What are you going to say about that guy on offense? He can do literally everything. ... He's one of the best play-makers in the NBA. He has a really high gravity on the court."
So why are Richardson and the Mavs not planning a contract extension? Two reasons:
One, while Monday was a deadline for some NBA players and teams to do just that, Richardson's situation does not require him to take that "or-else'' action. So while Marc Stein of the New York Times, reports accurately that the two sides are not prioritizing an extension, they could broach the subject at any time should they wish.
Two, about that "elation'' ...
Passing on an extension now and becoming an unrestricted free agent following the 2020-21 season is the best way for Richardson to truly cash in. And how to raise his value from his present salary of about $11 million?
Spend a season alongside his "goofy business partner'' Luka Doncic.
With an extension, the 6-6 two-way standout Richardson can only get a deal that starts at 120 percent of his present salary. That means his 2021-22 salary would be about $13 million - a fraction of what he could make as an unrestricted free agent coming off a season during which he gets fed by Luka.
Richardson, as Mavs GM Donnie Nelson recently told us, know "playing next to Luka means an open shot is waiting to happen.''
Coach Rick Carlisle sees it, too. In fact, he envisioned it even before the trade.
"We’ve been looking for a guy who can defend point guards and can score off the ball or take the ball and make Luka work off the ball,'' Carlisle said. "He is a guy I always felt would be a good fit along Luka Doncic.''
Richardson, 27, comes here with a great reputation as a defender. But he's also been a 15-points-per scorer in the league, and figures to do at least that here.
Because of Luka Doncic, Josh Richardson is going to get loads of space this year on the floor. And because of Luka Doncic Josh Richardson is going to get loads of money next year at the negotiating table.