The Denver Nuggets did well to lock up Danilo Gallinari (four years, $42 million) and Kosta Koufos (three years, $9 million) to affordable extensions before the league's in-season deadline for third-year extensions passed. Next season they will face a similar decision about whether to extend the contract of star point guard Ty Lawson or allow him to reach restricted free agency, and the decision should be just as easy. SB Nation's Tom Ziller has taken a serious look forward at players worthy of early extensions in the upcoming season, and Lawson's name is mentioned along with Blake Griffin as potential "no-brainer" candidates for long-term extensions.
Lawson is clearly the engine that makes the NBA's top offense so effective. His efficient playmaking in transition and fast-break situations is something hard to find in the NBA, so while Ziller doesn't believe Lawson should get a max contract offer, he does say the Nuggets' point guard is worth a very significant chunk of change:
Here's Denver's Designated Player candidate, the engine who looks like the best lead guard of the 2009 draft at this point. The Nuggets under Masai Ujiri have obviously shown a favorability toward locking up players long-term (Gallinari, Koufos) instead of depending on the market. That could lead to Lawson joining Griffin as a no-brainer early extension, though Lawson shouldn't be on the max level based on current production and potential. Something more like $55-58 million over five years seems closer to true.
Lawson is currently averaging career highs in points (15.7), assists (6.5), rebounds (3.8) and minutes (34.2) per game while leading the Nuggets to a 13-5 record on the season.