If you were to stack 448,000 $100 dollar bills on top of one another, there’s a chance that Larry Nance Jr. would be able to reach the top of the stack with his insane vertical leap. While I don’t know exactly how tall it would be, he now has an opportunity to find out if he really wants to.
After a summer that saw LeBron James bolt for Los Angeles and Kevin Love (surprisingly) sign a four-year extension, among other moves, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Nance have reportedly agreed on a four-year, $44.8 million extension, the team announced Monday night. He was able to return to the place where he grew up and a team that he considered his favorite team as a kid when he was traded from the Lakers to the Cavs at the trade deadline back in February. Now it seems as though he will be here for the long haul, as the extension came just hours before Monday’s 6 p.m. deadline to work out an extension.
“We are extremely excited to have Larry in a Cavaliers uniform long-term,” said General Manager Koby Altman. “His athleticism is off the charts and his positive attitude, work ethic and most importantly, his desire to be in Cleveland embodies all that we want out of our players both on and off the court. We look forward to watching his continued development and feel strongly that Larry can be a special player in this league for many years to come.”
When Nance become a Cleveland Cavalier at last season’s trade deadline, it was a special moment. Even before suiting up in the wine and gold, it seemed inevitable that the big man would sign an extension with his hometown team. Whether it was because his dad’s No. 22 that can be seen in the Quicken Loans Arena rafters, his family all living in northeast Ohio, being a lifelong fan of the Cavs, or something else, the only question was seemingly when Nance and the Cavs would reach a deal, not if he would sign an extension and remain with the Cavs for the foreseeable future. You could say the Akron, Ohio native is quite happy to ink the extension.
“I’m actually at a loss for words right now,” he said. “To continue playing basketball for a franchise I grew up with and watched as my father starred here is truly a blessing. I’m extremely happy to be a Cavalier and I can now begin to establish my own long-term legacy in this community. I want to thank Dan, Koby and our coaching staff for believing in me and my potential. This is truly a dream come true.”
Fans love players that get us. Nance is a perfect example of that for Cleveland fans. He was always one of us. He was a die-hard Cavs (and Cleveland sports) fan from the moment he was born. His family always lived here. Now, it seems as though Nance may get the chance to always live here as well.
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) October 15, 2018
During his first season with the wine and gold, the athletic forward-center averaged a career-high 8.9 points, seven rebounds, one assist, and 1.2 steals per game while shooting 55 percent from the field in 20.8 minutes a game. Although he had some ups and downs during the postseason, Nance had a solid first playoff run, to say the least. Whether it was his energy or what he brought defensively, his 4.8 points and 4.5 rebounds in 15.4 minutes a night, the energetic big man brought so much more than what showed up in the box score.
The 6-foot-9 big man who can seemingly outjump anyone is a very solid forward-center that can either be inserted into the starting lineup or come off the bench. Unless there’s an injury, he will likely come off the bench along center Ante Zizic, while Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love will start.1 Either way, Nance makes sure to maximize his playing time while helping his team be the best they can possibly be. You can’t ask for much more than that.
While the extension may seem like a bit much, if the numbers are correct, he will make about $11.2 million per year during his contract. That would rank 41st among NBA forwards and 29th among centers. With his versatility and athleticism that he brings to the team, that’s not too bad. He has the length and size to bother shooters and enough athleticism to stay in positive against other versatile forwards and big men that can handle the ball. Although it’s a small sample size and the team will look much different this season, the Cavs’ defensive rating was 101.9 when he was on the floor compared to 113.5 when Nance was off of it last season, according to NBA.com.
Now, if he can develop a solid, consistent shot from 15 feet and beyond, he could turn into an even bigger weapon on offense. It doesn’t seem to be part of his game, but one can wish. Even without being able to consistently shoot from beyond 10 feet, Nance has found a way to continue to produce offensively while being a force defensively as well.
When Nance is on the floor he can be (an is) a big boost for a team. His health seems to be the biggest question mark though, at least so far in his early career. In fact, his 66 regular-season games with the Lakers and Cavs this past season was the most of his three-year career. In his first two years in the NBA, he played in just 63 games each of the two seasons. If he can stay on the court and remain healthy, the deal seems to be a good one.
Why is this a win-win for Nance, the Cavs, and the fans?
No matter what the Cavs record is this season, the 25-year-old will continue to develop on both sides of the ball, much like his peers. As head coach Tyronn Lue stated at Media Day, this season is about Wins and Lessons, not wins and losses. It will be quite different without LeBron suiting up in the wine and gold on a nightly basis, but it doesn’t mean the Cavs can’t be fun to watch, even if they may miss out on a spot in the playoffs in the end. Nance will be one of the many reasons why the wine and gold will still be fun this season, along with guys like Love and fan-favorite Channing Frye, all while watching the development of young players such as Cedi Osman and Collin Sexton.
What makes it even better is that it seems as though the Cavs made sure the extension was very beneficial to them as well, in terms of the money side of things. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski revealed Monday night that, much like Love’s extension, Nance’s descends as the years go on. Keep in mind, with both Love and Nance signing an extension this offseason, the wine and gold now have those two and Sexton under contract for the next five years.
Sources: Larry Nance's four-year, $45M extension gives Cavs some flexibility in later years, descending annually from $12.7M, $11.7M, $10.6M to $9.6M in 2022-23. Kevin Love’s deal is structured in similar way. Cavs could have significant space when cap rises to $116M in 2020.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 16, 2018
Nance deserved a payday, his first big payday following his rookie contract. To say it inked in Cleveland is special. LeBron got all the headlines for coming home in 2014, but Nance did the same thing in 2018. I’m not saying that they’re the same caliber player, but seeing a hometown kid playing for his favorite team is cool. Being able to do it with his dad’s name and number in the rafters above is even more special.