A Daily Babble Production
As was evident this summer in the drawn-out negotiation processes of Ben Gordon, Delonte West, Carl Landry and several others, restricted free agency is by no means necessarily a cakewalk in the NBA. But it would still likely be worth it for Jason Maxiell to take his shot at testing the waters next summer.
As Michigan Live's A. Sherrod Blakely reported on Monday, the Pistons have offered Maxiell a three-year deal worth $15 million with a team option for a fourth year. For a guy who has yet to make as much as $2 million in a season, it's a proposal worth entertaining. But considering Maxiell's skill set and progress thus far into his young career, it's hard to imagine he won't be better served to wait a year and hit the open market.
The 6-foot-7 forward plays a game much bigger than his height and perhaps larger still than his bulky 260-pound frame. The fourth-year man from Cincinnati has consistently impressed observers with his energy and toughness since being selected 26th in the 2005 draft. By the midst of last seaosn, it seemed that Maxiell was always throwing down an emphatic dunk on someone several inches larger or bodying up one of the league's established post players and causing problems defensively. This a true lunch-pail guy: He isn't blessed with great height or a natural touch around the rim, but he scraps for everything he can on both ends of the floor and has turned himself into an effective reserve in Detroit.
Maxiell's role has increased with each passing year in Motown, and individual progress has accompanied the additional minutes. Maxiell has gone from 6.1 to 14.1 to 21.6 minutes per game over his first three seasons. Over that span, he has increased his production on the glass (from 6.3 to 8.8 boards per 36 minutes), decreased his turnovers (from 2.5 to 1.4 per 36 minutes), kept his per-minute scoring relatively constant (13.6, 12.8 and 13.3 points per 36 minutes) and made strides in his shooting efficacy each season. Maxiell posted a true shooting of 41.4 percent in his rookie season, 51.8 percent the next year and 57.6 percent this past season. He has matched his tenacity with increasingly good positioning on the boards, improved decision-making about which shots to take and better mechanics allowing him to make those shots. It also didn't hurt that Maxiell held opponents to an effective field goal percentage below 50 percent at both frontcourt positions last season.
Maxiell's role is only expected to increase in 2008-09. The Pistons' veteran core isn't getting any younger, and Michael Curry will be looking to avoid over-extending the likes of Rasheed Wallace and Antonio McDyess in the regular season. Maxiell has proved that he can spell them effectively, and he will only be afforded more chances throughout this coming season to show that he can and should be trusted at crunch time in the postseason. He doesn't back down from anybody and plays with the type of nasty streak that the Pistons have historically cherished.
Jason Maxiell's hard-nosed play, consistent improvement and constant energy have begun to get him noticed across the Association. By next summer, he'll still be only 26 and heading into the prime of his career. Barring injury in the year to come, it's hard to fathom the young terror not commanding some lucrative offers from around the league.