The Portland Trail Blazers, somewhat surprisingly, have not started discussing contract extension with young up-and-coming center Meyers Leonard, according to Jason Quick of CSNNW, who reports:
With the NBA’s Nov. 2 deadline for contract extensions one week away, Meyers Leonard and the Trail Blazers have yet to broach his future.
Neil Olshey, the Blazers’ president of basketball operations, has said he will address an extension with Leonard’s agent near the end of October, and knowing Olshey, his stiff arm in delaying the negotiations is by design.
Considering it’s October 27, it would seem near the end of October has arrived. The goal of delaying the offer is apparently to curtail negotiations, according to Quick:
He doesn’t want a drawn out, back-and-forth between himself and agent Aaron Mintz. Olshey will offer his number, give Mintz a chance to counter, and then it’s over.
There is the other end of this, which is the “Kawhi Leonard Theory.” Last season, the San Antonio Spurs knew they were paying Leonard a maximum extension before the season tipped off. However, because they delayed inking him until after they signed their free agents, they were able to “save” cap space in the process. And that was the difference in giving them the freedom to sign LaMarcus Aldridge–away from the Trial Blazers.
Ergo, if anyone is aware of the nuances of that trick, it’s Olshey, who may be looking to “save” the money to build a better roster next summer. That said, if this is his plan, he better plan on paying his own Leonard the max at the end of the year, as the young center is likely to thrive in the absence of Aldridge, and with all the TV money coming in, someone is going to offer Leonard the max. If that does happen, though, the Trail Blazers will be to match as Leonard will be a restricted free agent.