Kenneth Faried is approaching a pivotal point in his career. Following the 2014-2015 season, he will become a restricted free agent, and will be presented with his first opportunity to leverage the market to measure his worth.
In most situations, that would be a daunting situation for a franchise, as the market often artificially inflates the worth of a player, but the Denver Nuggets have an opportunity to avoid that scenario altogether by preemptively renegotiating Faried’s deal.
Faried is set to make roughly $2.3 million next season. To put that into perspective, Nene Hilario will make $13 million in 2014. You read that right; Nene, $13 million. Even Carlos Boozer, who was recently amnestied by the Chicago Bulls, will make only $3.25 million next season with the Los Angeles Lakers.
If you take a look across the NBA landscape with any objectivity, it should be apparent that Faried has established himself as a top-10 power forward in the league.
The Nuggets have an opportunity to pay a top-10 player at their position, at a discounted rate, by avoiding a situation like the Utah Jazz ran into this offseason with Gordon Hayward. For those of you who may not be familiar, the Jazz allowed the market to set the price for Hayward, and they wound up giving him an inflated $11 million pay raise after the Charlotte Hornets forced their hand by making an outlandish offer.
I like Hayward as a player, but he was vastly overpaid.
The Nuggets will most likely be faced with an even more thirsty market next summer with LaMarcus Aldridge, Marc Gasol and Al Jefferson all heading into free agency. Teams will be vying for players to compete with the teams jockeying for these big men.
The Nuggets could probably get away with paying Faried somewhere between $8 and $9 million per season if they would be willing to extend his contract sometime this season. If they allowed him to test the waters of free agency, that number likely increases to the $12 million range once they were forced to match a team that placed an inflated qualifying offer on him.
The Nuggets have put on a mixed public front with respect to Faried. Sometimes, he is put forth as a cornerstone of their franchise, and other times he is the subject of the most whimsical of trade rumors.
If there is truly any intent of making Faried a foundational building block, the Nuggets would be remiss by failing to preemptively extend his contract. Otherwise, they will be paying an escalated price, driven by a market famished for big men.
Get it done Mr. Connelly.