Rumors have been swirling around a Lou Williams trade for weeks now, but Adrian Wojnarowksi and Brian Windhorst of ESPN last night reported instead of a trade, the Clippers were closing in on an extension with the 6th man (as written up earlier by Lucas). While the extension hasn’t been officially announced and signed yet (and likely won’t be until after the trade deadline), it seems pretty set in stone right now.
The terms of the deal aren’t fully known as of right now, but the general gist is that Lou got a 3 year, $31 million extension (that’s $10.3 million a year for those people who don’t like math), with the last year being either a team option or only partially guaranteed (conflicting reports on this).
There are several ways to look at this. The first, an opinion held by quite a few members of Clips Nation, is that it makes no sense to tie up money in a good veteran player just a week after trading Blake Griffin for assets. That view would have Lou traded this deadline for future assets as well. The second is that this is a good overall basketball and financial move for the Clippers— Lou has been fantastic for the Clippers this season, and even though this is an outlier year, this contract will probably range from “underpaid” to “slightly overpaid” as he ages through it. That’s quite good value, and Lou has certainly been worth more than $10 million to the Clips this season. The third view is that this is just more asset management. It appears that the Clippers weren’t getting the value back that they wanted for Lou in potential trades, so instead of having the prospect of losing an asset for nothing this summer, they kept the asset on a deal that should retain trade value.
I understand that there is merit to all three of those perspectives. I think that the Clippers like Lou a lot (he’s been a very underrated locker room leader and presence this season), and they believe that he can play an important part on this “reloaded” Clippers team. I also trust that if things don’t go the Clippers’ way the rest of this season, or over the summer in free agency, they will show no hesitation in trading him for assets if they feel like a true rebuild is in the cards. His contract is incredibly team friendly (especially if that third year is a team option), and unless his game falls off an absolute cliff, he will still be worth a reasonable return for a contending team a year from now.
The Clippers’ new calling card appears to be flexibility. This extension is another step for the Clippers in that direction. Having Lou under contract for several seasons ensures that at least one of the Clippers’ veteran leaders (and best players) will be here for the long haul. If the team remains competitive during that time, he will be a valuable piece to the team’s success. On the other hand, holding onto Lou as an “asset” gives them another chip to trade in the future— this extension could help on the paths towards both competitiveness and rebuilding, and the risk to it is incredibly low. I judge it to be a smart move.
For his part, Lou seems very happy to be staying. He is tired of moving himself and his family around, and he’s made a home in LA. Congratulations to Lou on the much deserved new contract!
Per Mark Deeks, a well respected and connected writer on NBA Twitter, the Lou Williams extension is actually a 3 year, $24 million deal (a flat $8 million per year ate), with a partial guarantee for only $1.5 million on the last season.
That just makes the deal even better. That’s just a fantastic contract, if these terms are in fact correct.
Contrary to assumptions; Lou Williams's extension will pay him a flat $8 million in each of the next three seasons, with the final season protected for only $1.5 million.— Mark Deeks (@MarkDeeksNBA) February 7, 2018