The problem with paying a player based on what you think they'll do is, by necessity, buying a product sight unseen. You hope there's been enough consistency that you can feel good about your purchase, that you aren't offering a big contract to a player who will up and vanish, while you still have to send the Brinks truck by every pay period. But at the same time, this is a league where Kwame Brown gets paid $7 million on a one year deal. If the Warriors are willing to put out a $43 million offer sheet to Deandre Jordan this year, does anyone think Golden State won't apply the whiteout and write in JaVale McGee next year? In any case, as Craig Stouffer said, the market is set.
There are several factors coming into play that combine to form an interesting question about JaVale McGee's future in Washington.
I believe the Wizards have until January 25th to offer an Andray Blatche-style extend-and-restructure like contract to Javale, but the big question is should they? One variable to consider is Nick Young's restricted free agency. The Bulls are off the market with the Richard Hamilton signing, the Hornets of course have acquired Eric Gordon. Arron Afflalo, Josh Howard, and Gilbert Arenas are still floating around, and it looks increasingly likely the Wizards will hold serve when it comes Nick's RFA. What's likely, and how does this impact a possible extend-and-restructure offer to Javale?
If Nick signs his QO, the Wizards can use our cap space to rework JaVale's contract and lock him up for the future, absorbing part of the hit this year. But why would the Wizards do that, one might object/scream, in the run-up to 2012 free agency? That's actually how this article started actually, once I ran over the list of FA and realized how thin the center market is (as usual). If by some miracle Dwight Howard is available and mentions 'DC would have been perfect' you can roast me over a slow fire. Other than that it's a veritable smorgasboard of meh. Mehmet Okur, Chris Kaman, Nazr Mohammed, guys who aren't exactly going to grow with the team's playoff aspirations will be available. Underwhelming young centers such as Robin Lopez and Roy Hibbert (depending on how you feel about them) will be there. Now Omer Asik I could live with...and Chicago's cap situation being what is, a front-loaded offer sheet would probably do the trick. Asik and McGee will likely end up as prime targets at their position for those that miss out on the Brook Lopez "sweepstakes".
With no clear target for the Wizards in free agency, no electrifying target lighting up the college game and the rash of exorbitant contracts for non-elite centers, one has to wonder if Ernie might not be planning his next gambit if Nick signs his tender instead of an offer sheet or multi-year deal from the Wizards. What would our reaction had been if Ernie had signed JaVale to a five year, $45 million extension when free agency kicked off? Would we be praising him now that Deandre Jordan is making $10 million plus? Is it best to wait for 2012? Or is even the consistent, incremental growth we've been seeing justification for a Marc Gasol offer sheet from a desperate team in the fresh CBA's brave, new world? As before, all it takes is one.
Let's play a little devil's advocate, as well. We've often talked about how JaVale is difficult to utilize as a trade chip due to his rookie contract. Odd as it may sound, locking him up long term could turn him into a limited asset on the market. JaVale is going to get paid one way or the other, and as he's done over the past two seasons, Ernie must get maximum value however it shakes down.