Monday marked the deadline day for NBA teams to extend the contracts of their fourth-year players from the 2016 NBA Draft. Jaylen Brown, Buddy Hield and Pascal Siakam were among the players who cashed in on their previous three years of success, setting themselves up to play for even grander salary figures down the line.
The San Antonio Spurs partook in the money distributing, handing Dejounte Murray a four-year, $64 million contract, per The Athletic and Stadium's Shams Charania. The agreement is fully guaranteed.
"The thing that hit for me is I've got four more years in the NBA, as long as I stay healthy," Murray said in his first extended comments since inking the new deal. "That's big for me. Dudes come in and out of the league. You get drafted, you either pan out or fade away. I'm just thankful."
Murray also cashed in with New Balance, signing an endorsement deal with the apparel and footwear company.
This lucrative period brought Murray financial stability, a necessary result from the torn ACL, that sidelined him for the entire 2018-19 NBA season. It also keeps the him in San Antonio into his prime, at age 28, when he can cash in for another long-term extension. Otherwise, he risked playing the year on a surgically repaired knee with the chance to re-aggravate it. Restricted free agency would have followed, along with a chance to not earn what he did from the Spurs. A risk, it had the potential to devolve for the 23-year-old point guard, even if he stayed healthy but struggled on the court.
So far, Murray has not played like he lost a step. In 24 minutes against the New York Knicks, he had 18 points on 7-for-10 shooting, eight rebounds, six assists and three steals. He cut through the opposition's defensive backcourt, playing as athletically as he once flashed as a sophomore. Plus, the potential to return to his old All-NBA Defensive status may have already been fulfilled, so the Spurs are already profiting on the court from their 2016 first-round pick.
This contract is friendly for San Antonio, paying Murray well below what other young starting point guards make. Per Basketball-Reference, the salaries will play out as such:
For 2020-21, compared to the game's other young point guards, this works in the Spurs' favor.
Take what the Golden State Warriors just gave D'Angelo Russell, at 23 years old, in free agency. While Murray is not an All-Star right now, the ex-Brooklyn Net will make $28.64 million in the second year of the max contract he took in the summer, capitalizing on one breakout season.
Malcolm Brodgon, at age 26 and in the same draft class as Murray, will receive $85 million in guaranteed money from the Indiana Pacers over four seasons, even after injuries cut his last two campaigns by a combined 52 games.
Perhaps more eye-opening than those two players, the Charlotte Hornets gave Terry Rozier, 25, three years, $56.7 million in guarantees, after just 38 percent shooting for 7.7 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists in the regular season for Boston. He was paid well for a 2018 postseason run of 16.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.7 assists, but even then, he did this on 14 shots per game and a 40.6 percentage. In 2020-21, the Louisville product will make $18.9 million to Murray's $15.28 million.
For a player already flashing the promise of a good offensive player to add to his defensive-stopper reputation, if he continues taking steps forward and trounces those 2017-18 numbers, this is a home run for the Spurs. They have a team-friendly deal for the NBA's most important position, and it will come in handy when the payroll clears in 2021, with LaMarcus Aldridge potentially gone, as well as DeMar DeRozan the year before, if he does not re-sign before the 2019-20 season ends. Murray is actually the only guaranteed contract for 2020-21, and while that will inevitably change, the Spurs have an open situation in 24 months; they have the player to lead them into that and the next era of basketball in San Antonio.