Jarrett Allen, Cleveland Cavaliers agree to a five-year, $100 million contract extension

Cleveland locks in one of their franchise cornerstone at the center position as a playoff push beckons.

Prior to the start of league's new year began and the free agency pool opened, the Cleveland Cavaliers were one of the first teams to make a high splash – both figuratively and literally. Moments into free agency Cleveland locked up big man Jarrett Allen to a five-year, $100 million contract extension, according to sources. Acquired from the Brooklyn Nets as part of the James Harden trade, Allen was a player the Cavaliers have always coveted. In 51 games with Cleveland Allen averaged 13.2 points, 9.9 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.4 blocks. The extension itself was first reported by NBA insider Marc Stein.

Allen's impact was immediate for the Cavaliers, especially on defense, and according to sources, his play stellar made it one of their top priorities to sign him before he could explore free agency. If he had Cleveland would have faced competition from the Toronto Raptors, the San Antonio Spurs and the Dallas Mavericks, according to league sources. So, mission accomplished for Cleveland general manager Koby Altman and his staff as the team was able to lock up one of its franchise cornerstones long term.

While some may balk at the price the team is paying for Allen, a traditional rim-running big man, but smaller market teams like the Cavaliers typically have to go above what's considered the norm. Besides, rebuilding teams like Cleveland should always try and build with the pieces they have and pay them accordingly versus trying to fit their roster to an idealized vision of team construction.

"Allen was going to be one of the hotter commodities heading into this year's free agency group," said one Eastern Conference executive. "His skill set as a defensive presence will always have value in this league. Sure, Cleveland may have had to overpay for him a bit but it was money well spent in my opinion."

Where there might be concerns is his fit with Evan Mobley, who the Cavaliers selected third-overall in the 2021 NBA Draft. But, what helps quash those concerns as well is the fact that Allen is only going to be 23 years old heading into next season. Despite already have four years of NBA experience under his belt, Allen still has plenty of room to further grow as a player. The next area of his game where Allen needs to grow is to continue stretching out his shot from beyond the arc and add some weight to his frame to allow him to bang with some of the giants in the Eastern Conference. While Allen does that, he'll also learn how to grow alongside Mobley and the two will grow in tandem and form an interior force on the defensive side of the ball all while serving as a nightmare pairing offensively.

But, at a rate of roughly $20 million annually, this contract could end up being a bargain for Cleveland in no time at all. It also can be a valuable trade chip for the Cavaliers if Mobley grows into his frame and Cleveland believes the former Trojan big man is a center long term. If that's the case, then there will be plenty of teams lining up to trade with Cleveland and give the Cavaliers either a power forward to pair with Mobley or assets to make an even splashier move.

The length, and timing, of this contract is also beneficial to Allen as well. The league's television contract is set to expire at the end of the 2024-25 season. Early thinking within league circles suggests the NBA will seek a $75 billion rights package, up from its current $24 billion deal, which pays $2.6 billion per year. One source goes on to think that the next contract will pay $7.8 billion annually which will result in a massive spike in cap room for every team in the league.

That means that at 28, Allen could cash in one last time as an unrestricted free agent. Ideally, he would sign an extension around the time the new television deal is set to kick in and then ride the wave until he's 32 years old. Whether or not that's with Cleveland is to be determined but the ability to maximize your earnings not once but twice is a huge win for Allen and players in a similar position and skill set going forward.

Signing Allen to a long-term extension was always a priority for the Cavaliers. As a push for the playoffs next season beckons, locking up their franchise cornerstone was the first step in many more moves to come for Cleveland. The next is figuring out what to do with Kevin Love, whether that's through a trade or a buyout of his contract, and then rounding out the roster with wing depth and shooting. There's a vision and a path for the Cavaliers to follow, albeit an unconventional one, that can get them where they want to go next.


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