The pros and cons of Franz Wagner's max rookie extension

The Magic and Franz Wagner agreed to a massive contract extension. Here are the pros and cons of that deal.
Cleveland Cavaliers v Orlando Magic - Game Six
Cleveland Cavaliers v Orlando Magic - Game Six / Julio Aguilar/GettyImages

Retaining homegrown talent will cost you. The Magic are currently experiencing that firsthand, as their core three, Franz Wagner, Jalen Suggs, and Paolo Banchero, all have to sign extensions sooner or later. 

Wagner and Suggs are eligible to sign this summer, and the former just landed a monster five-year deal worth at least $224 million. If the forward makes an All-NBA team in the 2024-25 season, that number could grow to $269 million. It is currently the largest contract in franchise history, but that will likely change when Paolo Banchero inks his rookie extensions. 

Wagner's extension was widely debated because opinions on who is a max player differ. Extending someone like Wagner is always a difficult move to make. He is a really good player with plenty of potential but he is not a clear-cut max guy like Banchero. Bobby Marks, for example, addressed this in his Magic offseason guide, noting that he expects Wagner to extend for around $25-26 million a year. 

Wagner will make a lot more than that, however, so let's look at the pros and cons of the extension. 

Pros of Wagner's max extension

The easiest pro of this extension is that Wagner is now locked up for the next five years. A team as young and promising as the Magic does not want to be at risk of losing one of its cornerstones and building blocks. That alone might be worth overpaying for. 

It also shows the team's faith in its young group and Wagner's potential despite the ugly ending to his 2023-24 season. Knowing that the organization believes in you can go a long way with young stars. 

Plus, soon this deal won't look quite as expensive anymore. The expectation is that the salary cap will increase by around 10 percent per year with the NBA's new TV deal. Wagner's deal, on the other hand, can only increase by 8 percent, meaning that he will earn progressively smaller percentages of the cap. 

ESPN's Kevin Pelton graded the extension with a B-, noting that it was the right move for the Magic to get the extension done now, even if they are overpaying him a little, and that Wagner likely won't qualify for the supermax anyway. 

Cons of giving Wagner a max extension

There is always something to lament about any NBA signing and this is no exception. Giving Wagner a max extension might have been a smart move in terms of keeping him around and happy, but it seems to be an overpay. Tyrese Maxey signed a five-year, $204 million deal and is clearly the better player right now, making the All-Star team and winning the Most Improved Player award. 

The Magic are seemingly banking on Wagner to improve and get to an All-Star level soon. If that happens, this signing will look like an excellent move. If it doesn't, the extension will look rather foolish. 

That being said, it is not at all unlikely that Wagner will get to the All-Star territory soon. He already averaged 19.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.1 steals per game in only his third season. If he can work on his outside shot—his shooting percentage plummeted from 36.1 percent in 2022-23 to 28.1 percent last season—it should be no surprise to see his name on some All-Star ballots. 

Still, this is an expensive deal, and the Magic will also have to extend Jalen Suggs and Paolo Banchero. The latter will certainly get a massive contract. Paying big money is the reality of retaining young talent in today's NBA, and the Magic are right to do so, but having two max contracts could potentially hurt their financial flexibility in the future.