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Why the Larry Nance Jr. Contract Extension is a Huge Win for Both Parties
- Updated: October 16, 2018
Monday marked another step forward in the future of the Cleveland Cavaliers as they reshape the franchise in the second post-LeBron James world. The signing of Larry Nance Jr. to a four-year contract extension worth $44.8 million was a necessary bit of bookkeeping that eliminates concern that might linger throughout the regular season, which gets underway on Wednesday night.
The deal is a win-win situation, with both sides effectively getting what they wanted. Looking into why that’s the case can be seen from the following reasons:
The 25-year-old Nance is beginning his fourth season in the NBA after having been the 27th overall selection in the 2015 draft by the Los Angeles Lakers. While his size and youth guaranteed that he’d find a home somewhere in the league next year, there was no certainty that he’d be able to get a similar or better deal next July as a free agent. With a contract in hand, he’s got peace of mind about the future.
For the Cavaliers, they’re now assured of having a continually developing player who’s now here through the 2022-23 season. Big men who can potentially deliver double-doubles on a consistent basis and and also be a force on defense are a rare commodity. That means that if he manages to reach loftier heights over the next few years, it will be the Cavaliers that end up being the beneficiaries.
Agreeable Financial Numbers
In the final season of his four-year rookie contract, Nance will be making $2.27 million and will have made approximately $6.1 million over that span. Those numbers would seem acceptable to the average person, yet merely scratch the surface of what players can make if they begin to deliver on their promise. Averaging over $11 million dollars per season over the four years of his new deal might be lower than what some others in the same situation are receiving, but it still represents a very healthy raise.
The Cavaliers’ salary-cap issues over the past few years have forced them to be creative when it comes to acquiring players. While that was unfortunately alleviated somewhat with the departure of James, having some cost containment when it comes to a potential breakout performer gives them some flexibility in this area.
The Hometown Connection
Nance grew up in Northeast Ohio and until joining the Lakers, was an avid fan of the Cavaliers. While living in the area might help explain that passion, the fact that his father, Larry Nance Sr., is a Cavs legend offers a unique supplement to his enthusiasm in playing for the team. The fact that his entire family lives in the area and can come watch him play at Quicken Loans Arena aids in reinforcing the comfort level he has when putting on a Cavaliers uniform. If his excitement wasn’t evident before, it came through loudly with this comment he made after signing the extension:
“I was the only person to live in L.A. and vacation in Cleveland. Now I can vacation where I live.”
Since the Cavaliers don’t play in a high-profile or media-friendly city, the team has to put in the extra effort to either entice potential free agents or keep their talented players that are headed in that direction. Having a player who actually wants to stay here and presumably live here when he retires offers the Cavs a chance to take advantage of an opportunity that comes across rarely. In addition, that local connection resonates with a Cleveland fan base that has a tendency to be provincial.
The Chance to Improve
During his first three seasons, Nance has averaged 21.5 minutes per game, a number that figures to rise this season. That’s limited him to an average of just 7.1 points and 5.9 rebounds for each contest, with additional time on the court invariably offering him the opportunity to reach that double-double stratosphere.
The Cavs’ plan entering the regular season is to have both Nance and Tristan Thompson share the center position, depending on the opposing big man. Thompson struggled last year, putting up the worst numbers of his career, and even during his best seasons has only been seen as a one-dimensional player who rebounds. Nance will be able to help in this area or have the flexibility to contribute when Kevin Love needs a rest at power forward.
Nance’s new comfort level may have to wait since he continues to recover from a sprained ankle suffered in practice last week. Though whether he’s able to play in the opening clash at Toronto or has to cool his heels until he’s ready to go, both he and the Cavaliers front office no doubt enter this year with smiles on their faces.