Michael Kidd-Gilchrist signed a four year extension, worth $52 million, with the Charlotte Hornets yesterday, and honestly he might need to fire his agent cause that's a steal for the Hornets.
MKG got so vastly underpaid what the majority of Hornets fans thought he would get on an open restricted free agency market that instant reaction to the deal was not only that of a steal, but relief to the extra cap space the Hornets now had available to them.
To put all this into perspective, Kidd-Gilchrist will be making about $13 million per year with his new contract. That's a decent amount of money all things considered, but the NBA's cap room is rising at a drastic rate thanks to the new TV deal. As a result, cap room is rising, and player salaries are increasing. Players that are making $10 million dollars right now are worth somewhere around $13 million, and players making $8.5 million are moving up to the $10 million dollar range. This wild spending is only going to increase as the cap is expected to jump even higher over the next few years. Right in time for what feels like an inevitable lockout.
What all of this means is that MKG is currently being paid like a $10 million dollar player, which is somewhere around decent role player money, and the Hornets have him locked into that right before the minimum goes up. This is an incredible deal for a player that's worth so much more than a simple role player.
It's been written to death what kind of impact Kidd-Gilchrist has on the Hornets thanks to his defense alone, but just to re-iterate the impact he has. When MKG is off the floor, the Hornets give up an average of 104.1 points per 100 possessions, and a much improved 96.3 points per 100 possessions when he's on the floor. On offense, where he supposedly brings the team down, the Hornets are three points better per 100 possessions than they are without him. Yes, when MKG is in the game, the Hornets offense gets better.
Now maybe none of these fancy stats matter, and at the end of the day it's wins and losses that matter. Well in games that MKG missed, Charlotte went 6-21, and with him healthy they went a much better 27-28. Now obviously the sample size of games played is much larger than games missed, but the one without is just large enough that it can't be ignored. Either way, it's pretty clear that the Hornets are better with MKG than they are without him.
Still, this doesn't answer the question that many have been asking. If Kidd-Gilchrist is worth so much more then why did he take the extension? Is his development not a sure thing? Well, it's unlikely that's it, because MKG has periodically improved every year he's been in the NBA, and he's only 21 years old. He's gone from a big long guy, with athleticism, that could make a lot of hustle plays to one of the smartest players in the NBA. Kidd-Gilchrist always knows where he needs to be on the court, and how he should play from that area. Even his often criticized jumpshot has improved every year he's been in the NBA.
Sharp eyed readers will notice that MKG's efficiency has yet to improve on a large scale, but they will see that he shot 50 percent from 10 to 16 feet, and 37 percent on shots just inside 3-point range. They might also notice that he didn't take a single 3-pointer. This is something that has created much debate. For some, MKG is someone that needs to improve his 3-point shot if he's going to get any better in the NBA, and for others it's an example of him once again playing smart basketball. If he's making two point shots as efficiently as he is, and taking them with confidence, then why should he bother with 3-point shots? He's only 21, and there's plenty of time to add more range. For now, MKG is taking shots he knows he can make while making those shots. That is huge for someone that had a jumpshot so broken that it created this infamous picture.
So the Hornets are better with MKG on the floor, and he's improved every year he's been in the NBA. The logical conclusion for a player like him would be to ask for the house in an extension, or wait it out and make even more money in RFA with the rising cap space. This raises the question, why did MKG choose to take the extension over waiting a year and likely being paid more? Nobody really knows for sure, but Kidd-Gilchrist may want to have a nice long talk with his agent.