Why Poole's contract could be rising with extension looming


With his cell phone fogged by celebratory champagne and cigar smoke, Jordan Poole turned to Andrew Wiggins in the Warriors' locker room after the two won their first championship in Boston and while living in the moment, both Warriors came to quite the realization

"You 'bout to get a bag!" Poole said to Wiggins. 

"No, YOU about to get a bag!" Wiggins said to Poole.

"No, no, no -- you about to get a BAG!" Poole exclaimed to his teammate. 

"We about to get a bag," Wiggins responded. 

"WE 'bout to get a bag!" Poole said back, and the party continued. 

And now they wait, with an important date looming for Poole. 

The 23-year-old guard became eligible to sign a rookie-scale contract extension on July 6. If the two sides don't reach a deal by Oct. 17, Poole will go into next offseason as a restricted free agent. The Warriors are about to find themselves juggling a whole lot of financial situations, and they don't want to find themselves on the wrong side of Poole's future. 

Training camp is less than a month away now, and yet, Poole's value and contract figures could be on the rise. Three recent deals, one from his draft class and two from the year before, might show why. 

Poole was the No. 28 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, a selection that many "experts" saw as a reach or complete mistake by general manager Bob Myers and Golden State's front office. One year earlier, the Portland Trail Blazers took a swing on a young guard full of potential and question marks in Anfernee Simons. Nine picks after Simons, the Dallas Mavericks took guard Jalen Brunson out of Villanova. 

Both players signed contracts north of $100 million this offseason. Those figures shouldn't only stand out to Poole and his agents at CAA, but the Warriors as well. 

Simons and Poole essentially are the same age. If we're being technical, Simons is the older of the two 23-year-olds by 11 days. This past season, Simons broke out in Portland and averaged 17.3 points and 3.9 assists per game, while shooting 44.3 percent from the field and 40.4 percent from deep, giving him a 55.5 effective field goal percentage. Poole averaged 18.5 points and 4.0 assists per game in his breakout campaign last season, shooting 44.8 percent from the field and 36.4 percent on 3-pointers, equating to a 54.8 effective field goal percentage. 

If you thought Poole had his deficiencies on defense, Simons' defensive rating per 100 possessions was 11 points worse. He had a 121 defensive rating last season for the Blazers, and Poole was at 110 for the Warriors. They each had a 112 offensive rating, but Simons was worth only 1.9 win shares, a number that Poole far exceeded. He put together 6.0 win shares, ranking behind only Steph Curry (8.0) and Kevon Looney (6.8) last season. 

After signing a four-year, $100 million contract as a restricted free agent, Simons will make north of $22 million this upcoming season. As of now, Poole is set to make $3.9 million for the 2022-23 season, a number that isn't close to his value.

Brunson after being a key part to the Dallas Mavericks' success last season, signed a four-year, $104 million contract with the New York in free agency this summer. The 25-year-old averaged 16.3 points and 4.8 assists last season, shooting 50.2 percent from the field, 37.3 percent on threes and had a 54.9 true shooting percentage. In his final season as a Mav, Brunson was worth 7.5 win shares, had a 118 offensive rating and 112 defensive rating. 

The Warriors took down Dallas over five games in the Western Conference finals. In those five games, Brunson averaged 18.0 points and Poole averaged 16.4. Brunson shot 46.4 percent from field, and Poole had an absurdly efficient 63.6 field goal percentage. Brunson made 40.9 percent of his threes for the series, and Poole made exactly 40 percent of them. 

For the series, Brunson took 25 more shots than Poole. But Poole (13.9) had a better Game Score than Brunson (13.4) and his plus-36 in plus-minus was just a tad bit better than Brunson's minus-40.

The last contract that sticks out is the most recent, and comes from the same draft class as Poole. 

On Monday night, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported the New York Knicks and guard/forward RJ Barrett are finalizing a four-year rookie extension that could be worth up to $120 million. Barrett was taken with the No. 3 pick in the 2019 draft, 25 spots ahead of Poole. Though he has had a strong start to his career, Barrett hasn't exactly lived up to expectations and hasn't been the star many envisioned after his one year at Duke. 

Barrett last season averaged 20.0 points on 3.2 more shot attempts per game than Poole. He shot just 40.8 percent from the field and 34.2 percent from long distance, resulting in a 46.6 effective field goal percentage. His offensive rating was only 103, and his defensive rating was one point worse than Poole at 113. Barrett was worth 2.3 win shares last season, 3.7 wins fewer than Poole. 

Many see Barrett as more of a 1A/1B scoring threat compared to Poole. Why? The argument really is only on the basis of draft slot and environment. The numbers aren't in his favor. 

When Curry went down for the final two weeks of the regular season to a foot injury, Poole stepped up and averaged 26.0 points per game, including the Celtics game that Curry left early to his injury. Over that 13-game span, Poole also averaged 5.9 assists, 4.8 rebounds and shot 38.2 percent from deep while averaging over 11 3-point attempts per game. That sure sounds like a 1A/1B scoring threat. 

Throughout the playoffs, Poole was the Warriors' second-best offensive player at 22 years old in his first crack of the biggest stage. Curry was the only Warriors player better on that side of the ball. That's not bad company to be a part of. Barrett has made the playoffs once, and averaged 14.4 points in a first-round series loss where he shot 38.8 percent. Overall in the playoffs, Poole averaged 17.0 points and shot 50.8 percent from the field for the champs.

"I know with a guy like Jordan, usually those things come down to training camp and end of the line deadline," Myers said at his end-of-season press conference back in June when asked about Poole's extension. 

RELATED: How Klay's brotherly mentorship of Poole helped Warriors

Training camp now is under four weeks away. Poole's extension deadline is seven weeks away. The San Francisco Chronicle's Connor Letourneau reported in late June that extension negotiations between Poole and the Warriors likely will have to start at four years and $100 million, or what wound up being Simmons' contract. Between Simons, Brunson and Barrett's contracts this offseason, there's no reason why Poole's value isn't on the rise. 

Of all the financial questions the Warriors have to answer in the near future, figuring out what to do with Poole should be near the top of their to-do list. Letting an in-house development story with star potential find a new home is the last thing the franchise wants to see happen. It won't be easy. 

Good luck, Bob.

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