Recently The Athletic’s John Hollinger wrote a piece evaluating contract extensions for several eligible players throughout the NBA. Among those mentioned was Dallas Mavericks point guard Jalen Brunson.
Hollinger, who’s well-known for creating and utilizing formulas to evaluate players, came up with a way to arrive at the estimated value of an extension for a player. If you want the specifics of how he came up with these values, you can read the piece for the gritty details.
For Mavericks fans, though, the focus is on Brunson. Hollinger projects that based on his past production and future potential, Brunson should earn a three-year, $57 million contract. $19 million per year for a backup point guard seems a little high, but if Brunson takes a leap and becomes the secondary playmaker the Mavericks need, it might be a fair price.
There’s just one problem—the Mavericks can’t extend Brunson for $57 million. There’s limitations on how much Dallas can offer Brunson on an extension, per the CBA. As Hollinger explains:
The issue here is that there is another rule for second-rounders: The team can only start his salary at 120 percent of the average salary, which is $14 million for the first season in 2022-23. Thus, a three-year deal for Brunson, after 8 percent raises, would only come to $45.3 million …
That $45 million number is well short of the $57 million Hollinger projects. And if Hollinger thinks Brunson can get more than $45.3 million, you can bet Brunson’s agent does as well. It’s possible the Mavericks have already floated an extension offer to Brunson’s camp, and it was turned down.
If so, the Mavericks will risk losing Brunson to the open market in the summer when he becomes an unrestricted free agent. Why Dallas didn’t offer Brunson an extension before this year is a mystery, though it more than likely revolved around keeping cap space clean for the pursuit of Giannis Antetokounmpo. Other second round picks like Shake Milton and De’Anthony Melton have already signed extensions with their teams.
Losing Brunson for nothing would be another mistake on the margins of roster construction by a Dallas franchise that’s made plenty in the last few seasons. There’s still time to get an extension done, though. Because Brunson is a second round pick, there’s no deadline on extending him. But if you follow Hollinger’s line of thinking, Brunson may choose to bet on himself and pass up the sure money of an extension in search of a bigger payday on the open market.