Day 2 of NBA Free Agency has come and we have seen some player movement, most notably the trades of Dejounte Murray and Rudy Gobert to the Atlanta Hawks and Minnesota Timberwolves, respectively . However the saga in Brooklyn notwithstanding, several star players remained with their teams, either through opting to ink a new deal or just outright signing extensions.
Here are some of players, who may have reached an even higher tax bracket over the past 48 hours:
Nikola Jokić, 5-year, $270 million
Nikola Jokić is coming off a season in which he averaged 27.1 points, 13.8 rebounds, 7.9 assists and led a short-handed Denver Nuggets to a 48-34 record, which was good enough for the 6th seed in in the Western Conference. These exploits were impressive enough to garner the Serbian big man his second MVP and he was rewarded quite handsomely for his efforts, as he agreed to the richest extension in NBA history, a 5-year, $270 million.
Bradley Beal: 5 year, $251million
There has been one constant in Washington Wizards basketball since 2012 and that has been Bradley Emmanuel Beal. In his ten seasons in the capital city Beal has averaged 22.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.2 assists on .456/.372/.821 splits. Though he only appeared in 40 games this past sesaon, he still put up 23.2 points, a career-high 6.6 assists and 4.7 rebounds. Beal declined his $36.4 million to sign a 5-year $251 max contract.
Ja Morant: 5 years, $231 million
Despite what their record may have been in his absence , Ja Morant is the driving force behind the Memphis Grizzlies ascendance to league and national prominence. Morant is coming off a season that saw his scoring jump more than eight points from 19.1 to 27.4 that earned him the 2021-22 Most Improved Player Award but the overall increase in his level of play, in conjunction with the impact it had on the Grizzlies should have had Morant more firmly entrenched in the MVP discussion. The Grizzlies, lead by 2021-22 Executive of the Year Zach Kleiman recognized what they have in Morant and responded accordingly, agreeing on a 5-year, $231 million extension.
Zion Williamson: 5-year $231million
Out of all the big contracts, the one Zion Willamson and the New Orleans Pelicans agreed on is both the most necessary and the shakiest. Zion has ethereal, and awe-inspring athleticism in a physical package that could take him to the level of being a generational. all-time great. The issue is can he push away from the diner table in order to realize his prodigious potential. At 6-6, 284 Williamson is a physical specimen but injuries have limited Zion to just 85 appearances but he has been spectacular in those 85 games, averaging 25.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists. Injury and Zion’s alleged lack of attention to certain aspects of taking care of his body aside, this was a move New Orleans had to secure Zion, as speculation was rampant that their young phenom was eyeing other locations in which to continue his career and a trade demand could be looming. As the hijacking of their 2018-19 season ( and Anthony Davis) by Klutch Sports in undoubtedly fresh in their minds, they could ill-afford to lose another All-NBA talent in a similar manner.
Devin Booker: 4 years, $224 million
With his play over the past few seasons, Devin Booker has established himself as top tier in the Association; making three All-Star teams, an All-NBA 1st teams, helping to pull a Suns franchise out of the doldrums to the NBA Finals goes a long way in earning that reputation. Booker In 68 games this season Booker averaged 23.5 points, 3.9 rebounds and 4.7 on .466/383/.868 splits and though this season did not end how he, nor the Suns wanted, it has been a good few weeks for the Suns star. He got rid of a Kardashian and he signed a 4 year, $224 million supermax extension.
Karl-Anthony Towns: 5 years 224 million
After having his heart, toughness and commitment to the game questioned recently ( most vociferously by one Jimmy G Buckets III) Karl-Anthony Towns reminded people why he was taken first overall in the 2015 draft. Resembling more the superstar he was predicted to be, the three-time NBA-All Star put up 24.6 points, 9.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists on .529/.410/.822 splits. Towns helped lead the Timberwolves to the postseason for the first time in four seasons and made the NBA-All 3rd team.
Zach LaVine :5 years, $215 million
Zach LaVine turned in another spectacular season, averaging 24.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.5 assists on .476/.384/.853 splits. He would have likely posted even better numbers but a knee issue that surfaced around the All-Star break clearly hampered his play, despite that he still made his second consecutive All-Star and formed a very formidable 1-2 punch with DeMar DeRozan. Despite LaVine’s very high level of play this season, there were still some ignoramuses who did not think Zach LaVine was worthy of a maximum-level contract.
Anfernee Simons: 4 years , $100 million
Damian Lillard has been high on Anfernee Simons for a couple of years, having this to say after Simons wnet off for 10 three-pointers in a game last April against the Indiana Pacers:
“I’m his biggest supporter. I just got a lot of confidence in him. I know how talented he is, I know how much ability he has, and when he gets in those positions I’m just always trying to encourage him to keep going. Don’t be shy, don’t worry about what people might think.”
Lillard’s confidence in the Simons proved to be well-founded this season, when Dame was limited to just 29 games, the fourth year guard stepped up , averaging 17.3 points , 3.9 assists and 2.6 rebounds in only 29.5 minutes per contest. Simons saw increases in his points ( 7.8 to 17.9), rebounds (2.2 to 2.6) and assists ( 1.4 to 3.9) and really should have gotten more attention as a Most Improved Player candidate. With this 4-year $100 million the Trail Blazers believe he can be a vital piece of the franchise going forward.
Jusuf Nurkić: 4 years, $70 million
Anfernee Simons was not the only person in Portland to get paid as his Trail Blazer teammate, Jusuf Nurkić agreed to a 4-year $70 million deal. After a gruesome broken lower leg injury limited the Bosnian big man to just 8 games in 2019-20, Nurkic played 37 games in 2020-21, but seemed to look more like himself this past season, averaging 15.0 points, 11.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists and a career-low 0.6 blocks. The 4/$70 million deal is a fairly reasonable contract should Portland decide to become sellers at the deadline or they receive an offer they can’t refuse for the man that was at one time on front of Nikola Jokić on the Nuggets depth chart.