Good news, Buckets — you're going to be getting that really good, premium kibble now.
Quincy Pondexter has agreed to a four-year contract extension with the Memphis Grizzlies, according to Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal, completing negotiations before the 12 a.m. ET deadline for teams to either extend members of the draft class of 2010 or allow them to enter restricted free agency following this season. (The Oklahoma City Thunder selected Pondexter 26th overall in 2010, then flipped him to the New Orleans Hornets in a draft-night deal for center Cole Aldrich; NOLA later shipped Pondexter to Memphis in exchange for point guard Greivis Vasquez.)
The team confirmed the agreement on Thursday afternoon, but didn't disclose its terms. CSNNW.com's Chris Haynes reports that the swingman will make $14 million over the course of the deal, which would keep him in Bluff City through the end of the 2017-18 season. We don't know yet how the extension will be structured, of course, but an average annual salary of $3.5 million — just a tick above the qualifying offer under which Pondexter could have played next season — seems like a pretty nice price for the Grizzlies.
If Pondexter's development peters out and he doesn't improve significantly over the guy he was for the Grizzlies during the 2012-13 regular season — a long-armed, active perimeter defender who hits 3-pointers at a better-than-league average rate (39.5 percent) but doesn't have enough other elements to his game to merit a starting slot or big minutes — then he's a decently priced reserve whose contract doesn't clog up the cap to get in the way of eventual extensions for centerpieces Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, and who remains moveable in the event something better comes along. If he does continue to improve his game — adding a touch more off-the-dribble creativity to his existing ability to attack out-of-control closeouts and a sharper passing eye to help make the most of the limited space in Memphis' half-court sets — and show he's worth handing something approaching starter's minutes at the three, then the contract could become a steal.
It's a bet worth making for a Grizzlies team that, due to its construction around the interior talents of Gasol and Zach Randolph and the employment of an ace defensive shooting guard who can't really shoot (except for last night, that is), continues to desperately need threatening outside shooting to space the floor. That's especially true after Pondexter's performance in the '12-'13 postseason, where he shot 45.3 percent from deep, paired really well with Gasol and Conley (lineups featuring the three of them outscored the opposition by an average 9.1 points per 100 possessions over the course of 171 shared minutes, according to NBA.com's stat tool) and frequently looked like just about the only wing option Memphis could offer that opponents might have to consider guarding (especially against the San Antonio Spurs). He got off on the right foot this season, too, coming off the bench to score 13 points on 4 for 9 shooting, dish three assists, grab two rebounds and post a steal and a block in 22 minutes in the Grizzlies' 101-94 Opening Night loss to the San Antonio Spurs.
Shooters get paid, as we learned this summer; by locking Pondexter up now, Memphis avoids the danger of watching him put up a strong season, reach restricted free agency and draw an offer sheet starting above $3.5 million per season. They get cost control, Pondexter gets some job security and a bit of a pay bump, and Memphis gets a competent 3-and-D swingman who, while not exactly a young developmental prospect at age 25, could still have a ways to go before he hits his ceiling. A reasonable move on both sides of the coin, even if there's not a ton of coin changing hands in the process.
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