John Henson (Finally) Gets His Contract Extension


The day is finally here. After no less than three full months of rumors, the Milwaukee Bucks and center John Henson have finally agreed on a contract extension to keep the big Buck in Milwaukee through the 2019-20 NBA season.

I’m not yet clear on what the incentives in the deal are, and I don’t want to guess at them because we’ve had some pretty wacky ones throughout NBA history (like Nick Collison getting a bonus for winning MVP), but if I had to hazard a guess I’d expect something involving blocked shots, since that is known as Henson’s strong suit.

People from all over the NBA have been calling this a great deal for both Henson and the Bucks, and I definitely agree with them–locking up Henson to a deal that will cost at most $12 million per season through the cap jump is just good value.

Plus it helps than Henson is a great guy who’s spent his whole offseason in Milwaukee, and a lot of that time spent with Bucks fans. While some players spend their offseason Sundays recovering from club adventures the night before, Henson instead spent one of his fishing with children from the Sheboygan Boys and Girls Club. He also made appearances all over the state at several big events–the man was everywhere in Wisconsin this summer.

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Those are the little things that will quickly earn a player the love of a community–not that fans hold it against players who wish to spend time at home, but the fact that John Henson chose to make Milwaukee his home just resonates with fans of the team in a big way.

Of course Henson wasn’t given this cash just because he likes to fish on Lake Michigan–he also happens to be one hell of a young center.


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Generated 10/2/2015.

His per 36 minutes statistics from last season show he wasn’t asked to do much in terms of scoring, but when he did shoot he was at least efficient (essentially the polar opposite of Michael Carter-Williams), making field goals at an accurate 56.6 percent rate.

He also rebounded fairly well, but of course the shot-blocking is what always sticks out when talking about John Henson–and for good reason. Four blocks per 36 is a fantastic amount of swats.

Henson’s advanced statistics make this look like a very smart signing for Milwaukee too. He was a plus player in terms of essentially every metric last season: player efficiency rating, offensive rating, defensive rating, box plus/minus, win shares and value over replacement player all had Henson as an above-average contributor.

Apr 27, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Milwaukee Bucks center John Henson (31) dunks the ball in front of Chicago Bulls forward Pau Gasol (16) in game five of the first round of the 2015 NBA Playoffs at United Center. The Bucks won 94-88. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

His PER and offensive and defensive ratings especially stand out. Scoring just seven points per game means Henson wasn’t seeing much usage offensively, but he still managed a PER of 18, which is impressive considering PER is often criticized as favoring players with higher usage rates. Henson managed to be plus eight in his ratings, with an offensive rating of 106 and a defensive rating of 98–both good marks respectively.

Henson’s play in Milwaukee’s playoff series against the Chicago Bulls may have also played a role in him getting paid. He managed to have a couple of big games against the Bulls, including two 14 rebound contests and a great Game Three where he posted 15 points, 14 rebounds, three blocks and a steal.

One last interesting note about his contract from the Woj article I posted earlier: this deal is constructed a little differently than most are. It’s a front-loaded contract, meaning the money starts out over the four-year average and will actually decrease over time.

Woj believes that’s a lockout clause–essentially that if there is a work stoppage due to a skyrocketing salary cap that Henson will have most of his money already. That’s solid logic, but I think there’s an ulterior reason the Bucks would pay Henson his money now.

If you weren’t already aware, I believe that the summer of 2017 is the Bucks’ new deadline for success. With Henson’s deal being front-loaded, he’ll have the most expensive season on it already completed by that summer, meaning he’s suddenly on a three-year deal probably worth just over $10 million per season. That is a super trade-able contract. Just saying.

Anyway, this deal is a slam dunk for both parties. Henson is an efficient role player who could develop into something more, who is now financially secure though 2020 and will continue to be a steady bench presence for these Young Bucks.

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