With the new CBA information now trickling in, we’ll take a quick look at the gaudy numbers associated with notable forthcoming contract extensions. For reference we’re assuming the 2017-18 salary cap to be $102M, and the 2018-19 salary cap to be $103M, though both are still projections at this point.
The Designated Veteran Player Extension
One of the most impactful changes with the new agreement involves the timing & calculations associated with elite player’s maximum extensions. Each team can now designate 2 veterans who are entering their 8th or 9th season, have never changed teams as a free agent, and have 2 or less years remaining on their contract. They also must have been elected to an All-NBA team, or been named MVP or Defensive POY in one of the past two seasons.
In short, this allows teams to extend their star players before the end of their current contracts, while still giving them more years and WAY more money than they could garner on the open market. Why more money? Previously a player needed 10+ years of experience to be eligible to receive 35% of the overall salary cap in the first year of his maximum contract. With this DVPE designation, players with 7-9 years are now eligible for the 35% salary as well.
Notable Summer 2017 Extension Candidates
Stephen Curry (G, GSW)
Contract Status: Expires after 2016-17
Curry already meets all criteria, so designating him a DVPE player would award him 35% of the cap for his 2017-18 salary, projected to be $35.7M. Were he to sign a maximum contract, this means an estimated 5 year, $207M contract for the 28-year-old – a cool $30M per year raise up from his current $11M/year contract.
DeMarcus Cousins (C, SAC)
Contract Status: Signed through 2017-18
It’s already been reported that Cousins and the Kings will come to terms with the maximum 5 year extension that would kick in for the 2018-19 season (he holds a $18,063,850 salary for 2017-18 on his current deal). As a DVPE designated player, his 2018-19 salary is projected to come in around $36.05M (35% of the $103M salary cap). Which means a 5 year extension is projected to total $209.1M, or a whopping $41.8M per year.
Blake Griffin (F, LAC)
Contract Status: Holds a $21.3M player option for 2017-18
While Griffin is in the process of completing his 7th NBA season, he doesn’t currently have the recent awards (All-NBA, MVP) to qualify him as a DVPE player. That could change based on the remainder of the 2016-17 season. For now though, Griffin is inline for a standard 5 year maximum extension with the Clippers, with a first-year salary that represents 30% of the overall cap, or $30.6M. In total, his max-contract is projecting to $177.48M
Russell Westbrook (G, OKC)
Contract Status: Holds a $28.5M salary in 2017-18 & a $30.5M player option in 2018-19
Yes, he just signed a 3 year $85.6M extension with the Thunder, but it’s hard to imagine any elite player not considering a new deal with the numbers being flashed in front of them. Westbrook (and James Harden) were "grandfathered" into the DVPE plan by way of the new CBA meaning Oklahoma City can sign him to a 5 year maximum extension that would begin in the 2018-19 season (assuming he plans on sticking around for the foreseeable future), with a first-year salary that would represent 35% of the overall salary cap, projected to be $103M. This means an estimated $36.05M 2018-19 salary, and a 5 year extension of $209.1M that carries through the 2022-23 season.
Chris Paul (G, LAC)
Contract Status: Holds a $24.2M player option for 2017-18
As a 10+ year veteran Paul is already inline to cash in the maximum amount of money possible should he and the Clippers both agree to it. This means an estimated $35.7M salary in 2017-18, and a 5 year $207M contract, assuming he opts out of his salary for next season.
Notable Summer 2018 Extension Candidates
Isaiah Thomas (G, BOS)
Contract Status: Holds a $6.2M salary for 2017-18
Thomas will have 7 years of experience by the time his current deal wraps up, slotting him for a 30% of the overall cap first-year salary, or in 2018-19, a projected $30.9M. A 5 year maximum extension would come in at just under $180M based on projected figures, quite the leap from his current 4 year, $27M deal. Were he to sign the max extension this summer, he would be tacking on 4 new years at a projected $138.4M.
LeBron James (F, CLE)
Contract Status: Holds a $33.2M salary for 2017-18 & $35.6M player option for 2018-19
LeBron penned a 2 year deal, including a player option through the 2018-19 season. Barring a breakup with the Cavs, it’s possible James locks himself into one final blockbuster deal to close out his career. Should he do so, he’ll be eligible for a whopping $39.9M salary (120% of his 2017-18 cash) for the 2018-19 season, and a 5 year contract worth an estimated $231.6M, including an unthinkable $52.7M salary in the 2022-23 season.