Now in his third season with the San Antonio Spurs, fan favorite Keldon Johnson will be eligible for a contract extension this summer. Based on his play this season and his overall potential, he could be in line for a big extension in the offseason.
While locking Johnson up on a long-term extension is likely a priority for San Antonio, he could instead choose to decline an offer from the Spurs and take his chances in restricted free agency. In doing so, he'd have another season to try and raise his value before the summer of 2023, where several teams will have significant cap space and could try to sign him away from the Spurs.
The Spurs can prevent that, however, by offering a big extension that Johnson isn't likely to turn down. With that in mind, let's take a closer look at a potential contract extension for Johnson.
At just 22 years old, Johnson appears to have a high ceiling as a player, but this season has been something of a mixed bag instead of the breakout season that many fans had hoped for. Still, that shouldn't take away from the fact he’s currently averaging 14.7 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, both career-highs.
He’s also worked to expand his game by doing things like mixing up his drives and relying less on brute force and more on footwork to get to the basket. It's certainly a work in progress, as evidenced by him shooting a career-low 61% within 3 feet of the basket. He's also taking nearly 40% of his shots from within 10 feet of the rim, which is a result of him taking a lot more floaters.
His finishing in the paint will obviously need to improve for him to take the next step as a scorer, but that's likely to come with more experience. In regard to his shooting, Johnson has bounced back nicely from a disastrous start where he shot just 11.8% from three over the first month of the season.
He’s now shooting a terrific 44.1% on 3.5 3-point attempts per game, hopefully indicating that he’s found consistency with his jumper. Factor in that he's figuring out how to get to the free-throw line more and the potential is there for him to eventually develop into a legit twenty-point per game scorer.
How much money could Keldon Johnson get on his next contract?
To figure out the value of a contract extension for Johnson, it's useful to look at the extensions given to Dejounte Murray and Derrick White. Both players signed four-year extensions worth between $68-73 million, but I expect Johnson's contract extension to be higher for a couple of reasons.
The first reason is that Murray's deal followed him missing the entire 2018-19 season with an ACL injury, which suppressed his value. The second reason is that Murray and White had similar talent levels and played the same position. As a result, White's deal was likely based on Murray's, with White getting more because White was healthy at the time.
I expect Johnson to command more than both considering he's better than they were at this point in their careers. He also doesn't have Murray's injury history and will be four years younger than White was when was signed his deal. So how much could the Spurs offer Johnson? I could see San Antonio offering around four years, $80 million.
While he's obviously not worth $20 million a season now, he could well be worth that in the near future, possibly making that contract extension a bargain. Johnson could turn that offer down, however, to take his chances in restricted free agency. That said, $80 million is a lot of money for a former 29th overall pick to pass up. I suspect he would accept that deal if offered.
An Agreement between both sides is likely
Overall, I believe the Spurs and Johnson will agree to a contract extension before the start of next season for around $80 million over four seasons. That deal could be an absolute steal if Johnson continues to develop, particularly on the offensive end.
Factor in his defensive ability, and it's not crazy to think that, like Murray, Johnson could eventually emerge as a two-way star in his own right. That's obviously not a given but the talent is there, as has the work ethic, which, when combined with the Spurs ability to develop, makes it at least possible.
Ultimately, fans will have to wait and see whether the Spurs and Johnson will agree to terms on an extension before the October deadline. In the meantime, they can continue to watch Johnson over the remainder of the season and see how he performs.