Raptors give fat extension to Bargnani

When I estimated the extensions that the big names from the class of 2006 could potentially sign this summer, I pegged Andrea Bargnani at $7-$8 million per season. It turns out I underestimated his value to the Raptors.

The deal, according to NBA front-office sources, would span five seasons starting in 2010-11 and earn Bargnani an estimated $50 million.

Bargnani did go through something of a transformation in his third season, averaging 15.4 points on 45% shooting from the field and 41% from long range. The previous year, he shot 39% from the field and less than 35% from deep, so he made a big jump, efficiency-wise. His PER (14.66) is still below average, mainly due to his suspect rebounding for a seven-footer (5.3 rpg) and lack of assists (1.2 apg).

The bottom line is that Bargnani will have to continue his career trajectory to earn the contract that the Raptors just awarded him.

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What is the class of 2006 worth?

Around this time last year, I tried to estimate the kind of contracts the big name players from the class of 2004 and 2005 would sign, and here’s how I fared:

All in all, I think I did a pretty good job. Of the 12 players that signed a contract last summer, I correctly predicted the range for seven and was within $1.5 million for the other five. Granted, I underestimated what the Lakers would give Vujacic, but I find him so annoying that I have a tough time objectively determining his worth. (Though it should be noted that he didn’t do anything this season to justify $5.0 million per season.)

This year, I’m going to list the top names from the class of ’06 to try to determine what kind of extension they’ll get if their current teams choose to lock them up this summer instead of letting them hit restricted free agency in 2010. (I’ll tackle the restricted free agents of the class of ’05 in my free agency preview, which will run on 6/29.)

Due to the economy and the unwillingness of most owners to spend, the summer of 2009 promises to be tougher for free agents than years past, so we may see a few players stubbornness get the best of them. One executive predicted a “nuclear winter” of sorts, so at the very least, it will be interesting.

So here are the top players from the class of ’06 and my best estimate of the kind of money they’ll command. I’ll list their age, Player Efficiency Rating (PER), along with a few comparables.

Read the rest of this entry »

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