It's getting to that time for the 2006 draft agent class. LaMarcus Aldridge became just the third member of the draft class to sign a contract extension, something that has to be done by Hallowe'en. Aldridge signed Wednesday night for five years and $65-million (all currency U.S.) with the Portland Trail Blazers.
Why is this relevant for Raptors fans? Aldridge was selected second in 2006 after Andrea Bargnani. As everyone knows Bargnani signed for five years and $50-million in July. I know people within the Raptors front office were watching with interest to see what would happen with Aldridge.
Brandon Roy, taken at No. 6, has already emerged as the class of that draft to date and has the five-year, $80-million extension to prove it. Now the question becomes if his body will hold up long enough that Portland will get the return on the deal. Rajon Rondo, taken 21st by Phoenix - just one sign of the apocalypse for Suns fans, by the way - is said to be looking for "all-star money" which -- probably starts at what, $60-million? He might be worth it, based on his triple-double flirtation in the playoffs last year, but that's still a big ticket for a guy who can't shoot. Does Rondo get all that room playing without Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and KG? That's for Danny Ainge to decide.
What is Rudy Gay worth, given his numbers are very comparable to Alderidge's and Bargnani's? Working for the notoriously cheap Memphis Grizzlies, Gay, taken eighth in 2006, apparently hasn't even seen an offer yet, but I can't see him not getting something in the $10-million range. Ty Thomas in Chicago is another enigma, the No. 4 pick's vast potential still unrealized, but insiders put his value anywhere from $40-million now with the chance that could jump if he breaks out a little bit.
Regardless, the Aldridge deal confirms at the very least that the Raptors got pretty decent value for Bargnani. If you look at their numbers for last season on a per 36-minute basis Aldridge comes out ahead, particularly given he did it on a playoff team:
Aldridge: 17.3 points, 7.6 rebounds, 48.7 per cent shooting, four free throw attempts and 1.2 blocks.
Bargnani: 16.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, 42.4 per cent shooting, 3.9 free throw attempts and 1.1 blocks.
But the $15-million question is, of course, will Bargnani continue producing at the rate he did in the last half of the season - 18.9 points on 46.8-per-cent shooting in just under 36 minutes a game - or was that just another tease from the talented Italian?
If he does produce at that rate or even trend upward, Colangelo deserves credit for acting decisively and signing the extension early. At this point it's almost certain it won't be a bad deal, based on current market conditions, and there's a chance it could be a very good one.
The true proper order of the 2006 draft is still open for debate and likely will for be for sometime, but if Bargnani picks up where he left off last season - and his pre-season performance suggest he has - there will be little question the Raptors got great value from their No.1 slot.