Avery Bradley Deserves an Extension From the Boston Celtics

The Celtics should lock down their star wing before it's too late.

With a new seven-year CBA deal tentatively in place between the league and the Players' Association, the future of the NBA looks bright. If the talent you see on a nightly basis wasn't already enough to believe that, the financial state of the league tells you as much.

To know that there won't be a work stoppage any time soon brings great value to the Association. It appears that the NBA is only growing toward NFL status, with a lucrative, nine-year agreement with television partners, ESPN and TNT. As a result of this reported $2.66 billion deal, the NBA salary cap grew from $70 million in 2015-16 to $94.1 million in the current year. And current projections have next year's cap at $102 million -- an increase of roughly $8 million.

The salary cap likely won't make such sizable jumps in the future. However, at this rate, who can say it won't continue to rise gradually year-by-year? As we've seen already with higher cap values, player salaries will proceed to climb higher and higher.

So, if teams want to avoid an inflated payday for one of their stars, it wouldn't be a bad idea to get a deal done before another cap hike.

With regard to their star two-way guard, Avery Bradley, the Boston Celtics are one of those teams that should take note.

Boston Cap Situation

At this point, the Celtics have five contracts that will expire after this season. Amir Johnson's $12 million is the most significant one coming off the books. That being said, the Celtics will have just about $61.73 million in guaranteed salaries in 2017-18. Therefore, by projections, they'll have over $40 million in cap space.

It's been rumored that the Celtics will go after a big free agent or acquire an elite player via trade in order to provide a boost into the East's top teams. But, despite a sizable addition or even a max contract, the Celtics will have more than enough room to maneuver in 2017.

Why not lock up existing players while you can? In addition to Isaiah Thomas' contract situation, Avery Bradley is severely underpaid. And, in today's market, a player like him is a hot commodity.

Comparing Dollars

Player Avg Salary (In millions) Years
James Harden $29.49 4
DeMar DeRozan $27.80 5
C.J. McCollum $26.66 4
Bradley Beal $25.43 5
Nicolas Batum $24.00 5
Dwyane Wade $23.50 2
Victor Oladipo $21.25 4
Jimmy Butler $18.47 5
Wesley Matthews $17.52 4
Klay Thompson $17.24 4
Evan Fournier $17.00 5
J.R. Smith $14.25 4
Jamal Crawford $14.00 3
Manu Ginobili $14.00 1
Eric Gordon $13.22 4
Jordan Clarkson $12.50 4
Tyler Johnson $12.50 4
Arron Afflalo $12.50 2
Courtney Lee $12.00 4
Andre Iguodala $12.00 4
Austin Rivers $11.83 3
Monta Ellis $10.99 4
Danny Green $10.00 4
Iman Shumpert $10.00 4
Matthew Dellavedova $9.61 4
Gerald Henderson $9.00 2
E'Twaun Moore $8.50 4

These are all the players who, according to Spotrac, are listed as shooting guards and make more than Bradley on an annual basis. In fact, he rates 28th at roughly $8.3 million per year. That figure only goes up to $8.8 million next season.

Next year is the last of his current four-year deal, which he signed in 2014. After that, Bradley is an unrestricted free agent and will -- barring injury -- receive a big-time payday. But, whether it comes from Boston or a different team in free agency, that's what he's due.

Of the 27 players above, only one (Andre Iguodala) has not collected a new deal in the last year and a half. A few are obviously on a different level than Bradley, but the wide majority of them are at the same point of their career, yet haven't made the same type of definitive surge in production.

Newfound Production

Last year, it was reported that Bradley was unhappy with his contract situation. But, after receiving a modest contract for a player with a sketchy injury history, no one really thought there was much he could do to improve his stance.

Before the new season, Bradley found one. In the offseason, the Celtics watched Jared Sullinger, Evan Turner and David Lee leave via free agency, taking a combined 17.5 rebounds per game along with them. Bradley decided his team would need him to improve in the rebounding area, and he's done just that.

After grabbing a paltry 2.9 rebounds per game a year ago, Bradley has accounted for 7.6 boards through 25 games this season. Despite the Celtics ranking 25th in rebounding, his 11.8% rebound rate is 4.9 percentage-points higher than his previous career best. He's doing his part.

Appropriately, Bradley's box plus-minus of 0.9 is the highest of his career, because, while leading his team in rebounding at just 6'2", Bradley has continued his production by averaging 18.2 points, 2.6 assists and 1.2 steals in 35.5 minutes per game. Behind his career-high scoring mark are personal-bests in shooting across the board, including 2.2 three-balls per game and an effective field goal percentage of 55.5%.

Given his overall health and newfound production over the past two-plus seasons, it's about time Avery Bradley gets paid like other top shooting guards around the league. If it doesn't happen soon, I have a feeling Danny Ainge will only regret it.