Here's what a KPJ extension could look like for Houston Rockets

How much is too much to pay Kevin Porter Jr?Composite image by Jack Brame

The Rockets are on the move. They have drafted well, gotten rid of some bad contracts, and have young guys ready to develop into stars in Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr, Jabari Smith Jr, Josh Christopher, Tari Eason, and others. Those days of only winning 20 or so games are about to be a distant memory. This coming season, they may even challenge for a play-in spot. At the conclusion of last season, they were 14 games out of the 10th and final play-in spot. Having to overcome the Spurs, Lakers, Kings, Blazers, and Thunder shouldn't be as difficult as it seems. Most of those teams won't be any better this coming season, and some of the other teams that made the playoffs may take steps backwards.

Part of rebuilding a team with young talent means knowing who to offer extensions to, when, and how much. Home teams can offer players a five-year deal, while opposing teams can offer a four-year deal. Enter KPJ. He's going into the final year of his rookie deal. He and the team reportedly have mutual interest in an extension, according to The Athletic. Jae'Sean Tate was the first of this new crop of guys to re-sign. His three year, $20.5 million dollar deal was very team friendly. Tate said he feels home here and took less to stay because he feels this is best for him, and he wants to see things through with the Rockets. While that's a rare idea for a young player to not maximize his earning potential, one can't expect everyone to do so.

KPJ is eligible for a five-year max worth up to $188 million (25% of the cap, with a year on salary of $32.45 million). That most likely won't happen. So what will his extension look like? I could see anywhere from a short term deal in the neighborhood of two to three years, or a full five-year commitment. The length will hinge upon how confident the team is in his ability to be here long term and develop into the role they envision for him. Part of that is contingent upon his attitude taking the full turn for the better, with no more hiccups like he's had in the past.

The monetary value is another thing. To keep it simple, I'll speak in terms of average annual value. Anything in the area of $8-15 million a year says they see him as a role player. $18-20+ million says they see him as a future cornerstone of the franchise moving forward. Green is obviously being positioned as the guy. He will command a full max extension when he's eligible. KPJ seems as if he sees himself in the same light, or at least similarly. Let's look at some of his strengths and weaknesses (shout out to my good friend Tim for his observations):

Strengths: When focused, he's proven he can be a point guard. He's improved his shooting and continues to get better. Good in transition, attacking the basket or getting the ball to a teammate. Good ball handler.

Weaknesses: Has to control his emotions, limit turnovers, and improve defense. Also needs to learn how to be a leader on/off the court.

Final thoughts: I think something to benefit him and the team moving forward would be best. A three-year deal, with a player option for the final year worth $15-20 million per year is fair. This gives him security, gives the team flexibility, and opens the door for a max extension if he proves he's worthy after two years. Jalen Brunson signed for 4yr/$104 million with the Knicks this offseason. That would be the ceiling for KPJ since his career numbers are very similar. The fear of him falling apart gives cause for concern, so does the lack of playoff production, which helped Brunson tremendously. I'd also put a Kyler Murray type clause for him to check in with John Lucas and/or a team approved mentor to keep him on the straight and narrow. He's definitely worth keeping around to see what he can develop into, but not at the cost of the team's goals and detriment of the development of others.

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It's time for DeMeco and the Texans to draft and develop a quarterback. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

The Texans are poised to turn the franchise around. They have cap room and draft capital. This year and next year's drafts are two of the most important drafts in team history. No, you read that correctly. The only draft more important was the very first. These next two will fight over positions two and three on that list.

Quarterback is the most critical position on the field. When your team has a franchise guy at that position, things tend to fall into place much quicker. Winning is easier. Coaches and general managers keep their jobs when they win. When said QB is on a rookie deal for four to five years (depending on the fifth year option) and is good, the team has more cap flexibility to build around him.

All that being said, the rumors of the Texans doing anything other than selecting a QB in this draft and building around him are crazy. People are talking about all kinds of scenarios now that the combine is done and free agency is upon us. Having a social media account and an opinion seemingly makes people “experts” these days.

First off, the Jimmy Garoppolo rumors are not what's up. If they want to run a bridge QB out there that'll help guide the rookie, they can find a cheaper one. Jimmy G most likely wants a longer term deal with more security. The Texans would offer him some familiarity with the staff, but his time as the guy under center would be limited because of the rookie. Let's say he's interested in coming here on a one year prove-it deal. Let's say he's willing to help groom the rookie. What happens if the rookie is ready to go and Jimmy G has to take a seat? QB controversy is not what you want for a team rebuilding and trying to establish a new culture.

Secondly, taking a QB that requires more grooming, coaching, and time to grow will set this team back further. It'll also raise the questions of whether they took the wrong guy and if they should take a QB when next year's draft rolls around. Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud are deemed as the most ready. Will Levis and Anthony Richardson are seen as guys who are intriguing, but may need some work. Young has size/durability concerns. Stroud is seen as a pocket guy who can't make off schedule plays. Levis has a cannon, but turns the ball over and gets sacked too much. Richardson is a big freaky athlete with a booming arm, but it's more musket than sniper rifle. They all have flaws, but Young and Stroud are clearly the top two in my opinion. A team like this wants to win sooner rather than later. DeMeco Ryans doesn't strike me as a guy who'd come here to tank or even delay the winning process. Draft the guy who's most ready.

Last but not least, don't try to fix the defense at the expense of the offense. Especially at the expense of the main offensive piece you need moving forward. There are some defensive studs near the top of this draft. DeMeco is a defensive coach. Giving him weapons on his side of the ball would immediately correct some deficiencies and make this team more competitive. However, Davis Mills is NOT Trent Dilfer, Brad Johnson, hell, he's not even Rex Grossman at this point. All those guys rode great defenses to Super Bowls. A couple of them won it all. This team doesn't have a game manager type to get them where they need to be. The Jimmy G option might be intriguing if you believe this is the way to go. But this team has too many holes to fill in order to make a move like that. It isn't one this or that away from competing for a title. One of the reasons DeMeco was hired was his ability to get the most out of guys on defense and develop them. He's helped turn mid to low round picks into great players. Use the highest picks to retool the offense and allow DeMeco and his staff to work their magic on defense.

This is a tough decision to make, and it isn't. Two things can be true. The hardest part is not knowing what the Bears will do at number one. Once the Texans are on the clock, hopefully the toughest decision they have left is which QB to take. Get Young or Stroud at number two and roll on. If you want to trade back for more picks, use number 12 for that. Don't overthink this, Nick Caserio. Remember, your job is on the line, so draft/act accordingly.

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