Today is decision day for Jarrett Allen. The Nets must either sign him to an extension starting a year from now or deal with him as a restricted free agent next summer.
In a free agent market where a number of his 2017 Draft classmates have gotten huge deals, Allen wouldn’t command a monster extension. But as a 22-year-old who’s has shown flashes of great potential — particularly in the Orlando “bubble” — it might be worth it for the Nets to move now rather than wait until August.
The market is hard to gauge. If you’re looking at his draft class, it’s difficult to imagine him getting anywhere close to what De’Aaron Fox, Donovan Mitchell or Bam Adebayo got — $163 million over five years with bonuses that could add another $32 million. That’s what Jayson Tatum got, the full $195 million over five. After all, those four players are seen as faces of their franchise while the Nets already have two such stars and Allen is sharing the starting center position with DeAndre Jordan. He’s more a complementary player, but one with a big upside.
What about the deal Kyle Kuzma reportedly agreed to over the weekend: $40 million over three years? Would the two sides be agreeable to that number? Or Christian Woods’ $41 million over three years? (Forget the five-year/$205 million extension Rudy Gobert agreed to this weekend.)
Mike Scotto reported Saturday that the Nets and Allen have had “exploratory extension talks,” which may or may not mean serious discussions.
The only real intelligence on what Allen wants came in a Hoop Collective podcast, back in early November. Bobby Marks, the former Nets assistant GM, said he heard the 22-year-old has a number in mind ... a big number.
“He’s looking for a Clint Capela-type of money,” Marks told Brian Windhorst. That would mean $90 million over five years. Capela got that deal back in 2018 when he was two years older than Allen is now. However, Capela had been more productive than Allen in the lead-up to that deal, comfortably averaging a double-double and two blocks a game. Allen has not yet had that success but in the Orlando “bubble,” he excelled, his game developing across a number of areas.
In six seeding games, Allen averaged 15.7 points and 11.0 rebounds along with 1.2 blocks and most surprisingly, 4.2 assists. Then, in the Raptors four-game sweep of the Nets, he averaged 10.3 points, 14.8 boards (the highest in the NBA playoffs), 1.8 blocks and 2.3 assists. Those are Clint Capela numbers. But that was also a small sample.
Moreover, he is the most durable Nets player. He’s missed a total of 14 games over his three years with the Nets and a number of them were DNP-CD’s in his rookie year. Last season, he missed only two games, both in the “bubble,” when Jacque Vaughn rested him.
Scotto wrote Saturday that “according to a league source close to Allen, he wants to remain a Net long-term, has enjoyed learning from Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, and believes the team is a championship contender.” Does that mean he’ll give the Nets a discount to stay? Doubtful.
Ultimately, a decision like this, a big bucks decision that will add to the Nets luxury tax payments in 2021-22 and subtract from their flexibility, will require approval from Joe Tsai. Tsai while still a minority investor, blessed the Clean Sweep signings as well as Caris LeVert’s $52.5 million extension last year. Then after buying out Mikhail Prokhorov last October, he approved Taurean Prince’s $29.2 million extension.
Depending on how much revenue the NBA brings in this year, Tsai could be looking at a luxury tax bill as high as $57.5 million come August, likely more in 2021-22 even without extending Allen. But as Zach Lowe told Sarah Kustok last week, maybe Tsai is willing to pay whatever he believes the Nets need to win.
“If joe Tsai doesn’t care, if he’s willing to pay infinity luxury tax, if he’s the anti-Fertitta, then it just doesn’t matter. You can build whatever kind of team you want,” said Lowe, referring to Rockets owner Tillman Fertitta.
When will we know? The deadline appears to be the end of business Monday, 5 p.m. ET. If the Nets and Allen can’t reach an agreement, expect word early. The Bulls have already decided not to extend Lauri Markkanen. Last year, the Nets announced they’d extended Prince right around the deadline. Stay tuned.