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Daily Babble: The Best Bargain In Basketball

Sorry, Monta.

That's right: This column was supposed to be about Monta Ellis and what a bargain he is.  Ellis is giving the Warriors 17.1 points, 4.1 boards and 3.3 assists per game as well as invaluable energy from the off-guard spot for less than $771,000 this season.   Seems like a reasonable enough price.  In fact, it is one of the most reasonable prices in the league for any productive player.

Of course, it also bears noting that Ellis will require a whole lot more money next season, and as of yet he remains unsigned by the Warriors past the end of this campaign, as the former second-round draft pick is playing out the final year of his rookie deal.

On the other hand, a little bit of HoopsHype scouring revealed that one of the NBA's best young players isn't in the last season of his rookie contract.  In fact, his team won't have to give him a new deal until the end of the 2009-2010 season, by which point he will have likely gone from one of the league's best young players to being one of the league's best players, period.  If he hasn't done so already, that is.

The best bargain in basketball is currently the best active player on the league's most pleasant surprise.  He is also the eleventh highest paid player on his own team.  And he won't make so much as $4 million in a single season between now and 2010. 

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The best bargain in basketball is already the captain of his team at age 23.  He is the classic player whose game is far greater than the sum of his numbers.  The numbers aren't bad either: 19.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game to go with 45.6 percent shooting from the field.

The best bargain in basketball gets in the lane very well and sees the floor even better.  He can hit the pull up jump shot.  He can get to the rim with ease.  He is as unselfish as a solid scoring swingman can be.  He has some size, plays some defense and gives everything he has every time on the floor.

For those looking to write off his bargain nature because he was probably some sort of surprise late-round pick that came to play early in his career, here's the thing: He isn't.  In fact, he was picked sixth overall and was consistently called the most polished player in his draft class going into the draft. 

He was a landslide winner in the Rookie of the Year contest.  Chances are, he couldn't have cared less.  This kid wants to win.  And thus far, he seems to be getting what he wants.  He took a team that lost its supposed best player ('supposed' only because he hadn't played an NBA game yet when he received the 'best player' label) and was expected to be fortunate to win 30 games this seaosn, and he pushed it to 25 wins before January was into its last week.

This individual might not strike everyone as spectacular, but he works as hard as anyone and makes everyone around him better.  He could be a cornerstone of his franchise for the next decade and a half.  And after next season, when his team gets its savior-to-be back, it could begin a run of Western Conference terror for years to come.

And until 2010, Brandon Roy -- the heart and soul of the Portland Trail Blazers -- won't make more than $3.91 million in a season.

I can't help myself.  I'm in awe of what is going on in Portland in every possible regard.  This realization regarding Roy's contract situation is just icing on the cake. 

And in the long term, I couldn't be happier that Portland is a few thousand miles -- and more significantly, a conference -- away from Beantown. 


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