Why Quincy Pondexter's Contract Extension Is a Steal for Memphis Grizzlies

D.J. Foster@@fosterdjContributor IOctober 31, 2013

MEMPHIS, TN - MAY 27:  Quincy Pondexter #20 of the Memphis Grizzlies reacts in the second half while taking on the San Antonio Spurs during Game Four of the Western Conference Finals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at the FedExForum on May 27, 2013 in Memphis, Tennessee. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Memphis Grizzlies swingman Quincy Pondexter could very well be the next Danny Green.

Will he shoot as well as Green, or break any records like Green? Probably not. But that doesn't mean Pondexter won't be worth every penny of his contract extension.

Memphis Grizzlies agreement with F Quincy Pondexter is a four-year, $14 million extension, source informs @CSNNW.

— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) October 31, 2013

When the San Antonio Spurs quietly re-signed Green to a three-year, $12 million deal, no fuss was made; no great fanfare came down.

One year later, Green was looking like a Finals MVP, at least until Ray Allen happened. 

Suddenly, go figure, every team wished they had contested the Spurs for Green instead of worrying about whether he was a system player or if his breakout season was a fluke.

Now considered a top-10 shooting guard, Green's contract might be the best non-rookie deal bargain in the entire league. Pondexter isn't on that level, but he's not all that dissimilar, either.

Pondexter's ability to cover multiple positions, defend elite wing scorers and space the floor with his three-point shooting would be worth $3.5 million on virtually any roster. But for the Memphis Grizzlies? A team starved for space that finished dead last in three-pointers made last season? A team built around pressure defense? It's an absolute steal.

Pondexter's fit on the court is undeniable, but now he meshes with the big picture in Memphis as well. Tayshaun Prince is 33 and makes more than twice Pondexter's salary next year, and for a tax-wary franchise, turning expensive players into movable trade assets is always welcome. With Pondexter locked up, Prince's deal can now safely be shed. 

That speaks to a bigger point. Under the new collective bargaining agreement, locking up role players to cheap, long-term contracts is a real, viable strategy. Players that aren't worth max deals but are too expensive to obtain with the mid-level exception are what I like to call "no man's land" signings.

MEMPHIS, TN - MAY 25:  Quincy Pondexter #20 of the Memphis Grizzlies makes a three-pointer over Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs in the fourth quarter during Game Three of the Western Conference Finals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at the FedExForum o
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Those are the types of signings that inhibit teams from making big moves, and there's a reason why most of the best teams in the league are completely devoid of them. Signing Pondexter for a deal so drastically below that potentially damaging amount is a victory. If Pondexter doesn't pan out, he only makes a few million over a minimum contract. There's very little risk involved here.

It helps that Pondexter doesn't take anything off the table, even when his shot isn't falling. He's a low-mistake player who does a lot of little things to contribute.

Last season, however, Pondexter's shot always seemed to be falling. The University of Washington grad shot 39.5 percent from deep in the regular season last year, then followed that up with a 45.3 percent mark in the playoffs.

That, of course, was in addition to great on-ball defense against players like Chris Paul, Kevin Durant and Tony Parker. Those guys aren't leaving the Western Conference anytime soon, and now, neither is Pondexter.

MEMPHIS, TN - MAY 27: Quincy Pondexter #20 of the Memphis Grizzlies dribbles the ball against the San Antonio Spurs in Game Four of the Western Conference Finals during the 2013 NBA Playoffs on May 27, 2013 at FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tennessee. NOTE TO US
Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

By signing the 25-year-old swingman, the Grizzlies have essentially locked up the prime years of an athletic defender without making a great sacrifice financially.

It works in terms of roster flexibility as well, mainly because Pondexter can play and defend either wing spot. He fits next to Tony Allen, and he fits next to Tayshaun Prince.

You don't think about building around role players, but Pondexter is a building block because he can play next to virtually anyone on the wing.

This could very well be the Grizzlies' answer to the Green signing by San Antonio or the Nick Collison signing by the Oklahoma City Thunder. It's an under-the-radar move, but the price is right and the timing is perfect.

The demand for three-point shooting and perimeter defense is only going to increase as time goes on, and the Grizzleis did incredibly well to stay ahead of the market and lock up a player who has a chance to be elite in both of those areas.