Domantas Sabonis: The Best Contract Extension in the NBA

The Indiana Pacers, after some saber rattling and a slew of trade rumors, signed Domantas Sabonis to a four-year contract extension Monday that, according to various reports, is good for something in the $75-80 million range with incentives.

The Indianapolis Star reported $74.9 million, as did Shams Charania, so that’s the figure I’m going to go with for this piece.

At that salary, and given Sabonis’ .197 WS/48 last year (the same as Karl-Anthony Towns and Kyrie Irving), that gives him a Wiggins Factor of 203.55, which is spectacular for a guy making star money—anything below 300 is good, 250 is very good, and 200 is “holy crap, he should probably have fired his agent” because the team got a steal.

For comparison, Myles Turner, the player to whom Sabonis is often compared and who makes about the same salary, has a Wiggins Factor of 232.18.

Put simply, if you can get a guy who is at or near the true superstar level of .200 WS/48, lock him up for four years at less than $20 million per, and enjoy watching him continue to blossom as he’s only 23 years old?

Kevin Pritchard just pulled off an absolute masterpiece.

This is doubly true when you consider just how many teams hand out perplexing, stupid contracts to guys coming up for restricted free agency who haven’t earned anywhere near the money they’re demanding and who their teams should probably just trade for whatever value they can get back.

Of course I’m talking about Jaylen Brown and his boneheaded 4-year, $115 million deal with the Celtics.

That gives Brown a Wiggins Factor of 778.33. The only players who should ever have a WF that high are guys who got injured and make a ton of money (Victor Oladipo, for example.)

For Brown, who was healthy last year, to post a ratio of win shares to salary that putrid? The Celtics just gave out the worst extension in the league, and it’s not close.

This is something to watch for as restricted free agency comes around next year. The Pacers, and their mastermind Kevin Pritchard, have an entire roster full of these kind of team-friendly contracts.

Only three Pacers have Wiggins Factors over 250. All three of them (Oladipo, Malcolm Brogdon, and T.J. Warren) were injured for meaningful stretches of last season.

That is Pritchard’s brilliance at work. Quite simply, nobody comes up with a better ratio of dollars paid to wins generated than Indiana. Every team has its too-high contracts (even Milwaukee; Khris Middleton has a WF over 400.)

Indiana has none of them that aren’t explained by injury, which is a flaw of the stat, not of the contract.

This season is a massive crapshoot for Indiana. The injury bug may bite and doom this team to another win total in the 40s, road Game 1 in the playoffs, and first-round exit (it doesn’t help that it’s the story of Nate McMillan‘s coaching career.)

But a small market without an ability to attract marquee free agents needs to win the offseason on value plays.

And of all the brilliant signings Kevin Pritchard made before the season tips off tomorrow for the Pacers, the pièce de résistance just came in the form of a Lithuanian big man who went from the trading block to a perpetual place in the low block with a big contract that is perfect for player and team alike.

Go Pacers. Let the season begin.