The Golden State Warriors and Jordan Poole have until the eve of the NBA season to agree to a rookie contract extension. If they don’t, Poole will play out the final year of his rookie deal, and enter the 2023 offseason as a restricted free agent.
That’s a fine option for both sides. Poole can seek out a nice contract, and the Warriors can choose whether or not to match it. So there’s no urgency to reach a deal.
Still, there’s a reason that most players don’t agree to rookie extensions. Without that urgency, neither side will be motivated to push in too many of their chips and end up with a deal they regret a year later.
With the extension hanging in the air, let’s look at the pros and cons for both the Warriors and Poole of agreeing to an extension in the next two weeks.
Jordan Poole’s pros
Let’s start with the big one: money. At the end of this season, Poole will have made just a hair over $10 million in his four-year career. Add in taxes and agent fees, and we’re looking at somewhere along the lines of $4 million or so.
Now mind you, I would love to have that kind of money (I know what you’re all thinking, and yes, it’s true: I do make less than a million dollars a year at this job), but it’s not exactly a huge payday. It’s not, as the kids say, “F you money.”
A rookie extension would be. Let’s assume the Warriors start negotiations at Anfernee Simons’ contract of four years, $100 million, while Poole’s reps begin north of RJ Barrett’s four-year, $120 million deal. Let’s say they settle on $112 million.
That’s a ton of money. And while it’s not as much as the $125 or $130 million that Poole likely thinks he can make if he waits a year, signing an extension now eliminates all the risk. What happens if Poole tears his ACL or Achillies this season? What happens if he’s in an accident off the court. Hell, what happens if he simply has a bad season?
NBA contracts are guaranteed. If Poole signs a four-year, $112 million deal, he’ll get paid $112 million even if he never plays another game in his life. At that price point, it’s possibly worth sacrificing a few million.
There’s also the pressure and distractions that will be eliminated with a long-term contract. No one likes answering questions all year about free agency plans, or listening to speculation about what will happen — just ask Kevin Durant. Poole won’t have to worry about contract-year performance, he can just focus on balling it and cashing checks.
Sounds like a good life.
Jordan Poole’s cons
Poole took a big step forward in his second year. He took a big step forward in his third year. History tells us that Poole, who only turned 23 in June, will take another big step forward in his fourth year. And if that happens, he’ll get a bigger contract then than he would get now. The Warriors will want to sign a contract that’s safe. If Poole bets on himself, he’ll have a chance to greatly exceed whatever the “safe” figure is.
There’s also the chance that this is Poole’s final year with the Warriors. Neither he nor the team want that to be the case, but we’re all aware of the Warriors impending difficult financial decisions. They may have to choose between Poole and Andrew Wiggins, and they might choose Wiggins. If Poole leaves without a contract, he can pick his team. If he leaves with a contract, he’ll be forced to go wherever he’s traded.
The Warriors’ pros
The Dubs have a million moving financial parts over the next few years, and getting as many pieces wrapped up as early as possible is beneficial. Plus, they’re at a place where every dollar they spend is many more dollars taxed. If by agreeing to a deal early they’re able to to shave a few million off of Poole’s annual salary, that could save them tens of millions every year for years to come.
Extending Poole also allows the Warriors to keep him from walking for free. If they decide to move in a different direction next offseason, they can trade Poole, and at least get some assets back in return. Though it’s worth noting that it’s not quite that simple: the Warriors would have to find a team with the cap space to take on all of Poole’s contract, or else they’d be forced to take back matching salary.
The Warriors’ cons
Extending Poole means the Warriors are stuck with his contract. That’s almost surely a good thing, but there is risk associated. If Poole gets injured he becomes untradable. If he’s untradable, then they may be forced to part ways with Wiggins, even if they don’t want to.
The Warriors willingly gave Klay Thompson a max contract knowing he was injured, and then he lost a second year to injury. That made sense because ... well, it’s Klay Thompson. But they probably want to avoid that with other players. Paying a player before they’re a free agent means you take on all the risk of the final year of their old contract, and put it into their new one.
There’s also the chance that extending Poole creates an awkward locker room dynamic if Wiggins remains un-extended, though I wouldn’t worry too much about that.
I guess we’ll find out what will happen soon enough.
Will Jordan Poole sign an extension before the deadline?
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