Boston Celtics guard Avery Bradley is among several players who are eligible for extension before the November 1st deadline. It's not just the money that's involved in these decisions, it's whether to let the player enter restricted free agency and potentially raise or lower his contract.
As I've stated several times, valuable players almost never leave in restricted free agency. Their teams have the ability to offer the best contract and have the best understanding of the player's worth. There's also a matter of continuity for both the team and player that comes into play. So is Bradley worth it? C's blog CelticsHub explored the idea:
That said, slim chance Boston loses him outright as a restricted free agent. He's too valuable as an intriguing piece in any pending assets-for-superstar deal for that to happen, complicating things even further.
The counterargument supporting why Boston should re-up Bradley before the deadline is the same one every team faces when deciding whether to extend a player who's on his rookie contract. What if Bradley becomes a dependable scorer in 2014? What if his offensive game flourishes, his market price as a restricted free agent increases, and the Celtics lose him for nothing?
It's possible. But so is the New York Jets winning the Super Bowl before 2056, or Breaking Bad concluding with Walt and Hank hashing their issues out with a long hug and some hot cocoa.
Nobody knows the future, but in this case there's enough evidence in the present to make the picture less blurry. Bradley's defense is special, but his future in this league is probably that of a glorified role player. The Celtics won't rush here, and that's a good thing.
Let's start with the positives: Bradley is an elite on-ball defender. Watching him sick opposing point guards is like seeing a Doberman pounce on raw meat. He gets right up underneath guys and is able to gamble and recover as well as any player in the league. He and Tony Allen are near-equals in on-ball defense, though, amazingly, Bradley is somehow more reckless and over-pursuant in his attack. (A tight whistle essentially neutralizes Bradley into nothingness.)
He's got some good things offensively. He cuts well back door and can run the break semi-effectively.
But one thing that gets lost is that Bradley is only a so-so team defender. He's grea at attacking a ball-handler, but he's not quarterbacking rotations and can get caught over-helping or ball-watching. None of this is stuff that he can't fix, and you can pay him based on reasonable expectations of improvement, like most young players get coming off that rookie deal. But you can't pay him for having that now, and expected to go even higher. He's got a ways to go.
I'm less concerned with him being able to hit a three consistently or create his own shot. The reality is that there is a majority of players in the league with skill levels that lean unevenly towards one side of the ball. Great offensive players who can't guard historically get paid more than great defensive players that can't shoot. But that trend is slowly starting to change.
Bradley's worth a mid-level development deal, but if you look at what Jeff Teague got, (four-years, $32 million), Bradley's not worth near that. It's goingto depend solely on whether the Celtics think he'll make a huge leap in what is going to be a rebuilding year for the franchise as to whether they pay him up front or gamble with RFA. I'd lean towards letting him set the market, but I'm not in daily workouts seeing where his game is. The most likely scenario, though, is that either way the Celtics are going to get a bargain for their lockdown guy of the future.