© USA TODAY Sports

The deadline has come and gone for extending rookie scale contracts for members of the 2020 NBA Draft class. In total, 14 players reached extensions worth more than $1.4 billion in total salaries. Both are records, according to our data on Spotrac.

There were a few themes, perhaps signs of impacts of the new CBA already being felt.


Teams are now allowed to offer non-maximum five-year deals. Under the previous CBA, any rookie scale extension of five years had to be a max contract. That was felt right away.

We still saw three Designated Player extensions (Anthony Edwards, LaMelo Ball and Tyrese Haliburton), but there were three other five-year deals reached. Desmond Bane got what we’ll refer to as a functional max, as he has bonus language putting him just below a guaranteed max deal. Devin Vassell and Jaden McDaniels both got less than the max, but each got five years. That’s a new thing, and the coming years will tell us if those deals set a precedent.


Zeke Nnaji got the only player option in the class. And his came in a deal that was pretty creative (more on that later).

Player options on rookie scale deals had previously been reserved for the guys who established themselves as stars in their first three seasons. Both Jayson Tatum and Donovan Mitchell got player options on the rookie scale extensions they signed in 2020. Luka Doncic and Trae Young each followed with a player option on their five-year max extensions. Since then, no one else has gotten one until Nnaji.

This is a return to norm. Player options are again being reserved for special cases, either superstars or creative contract structures.


Three players (Aaron Nesmith, Zeke Nnaji and Payton Pritchard) signed contracts that will come in under the Non-Taxpayer MLE amount. An additional three players (Deni Avdija, Cole Anthony and Josh Green) signed deals that will be roughly equivalent to the Non-Taxpayer MLE.

It used to be that to get a player to sign an extension, you had to beat the MLE amount. Otherwise, players would bet on themselves and enter restricted free agency. And deals far below the MLE equivalent were very rare.

That’s changing on both the player and team sides. Teams like Boston, Denver and Dallas are going to be dancing around the luxury tax and both tax aprons for the foreseeable future. Locking up their players now is good business. It keeps the player in the fold, while also giving the team some tradable salary down the line.

For Nesmith, Avdija and Anthony, this was a chance to lock in some guaranteed money in what could have been an uncertain season leading into an uncertain summer. None are locks to play a big enough role to have that true breakout season it would take to really cash in as restricted free agents. And their teams could all choose to go the cap space route, which might have taken any of the three out of the mix for a new deal.

For Nesmith, Anthony and Green, all took three-year deals (Anthony’s deal actually as a team option on the third season). In exchange for signing team-friendly extensions, all three players will be able to get back on the market while entering the prime years of their careers.

It’s also a reading of the landscape. The cap for 2024-25 doesn’t project to jump the full 10% possible, as of now. If the cap growth is less than some think, it could depress the market some. And restricted free agency is already far more team-friendly than player-friendly, as players like Austin Reaves and P.J. Washington discovered this past summer.

Now, for an accountability check, we’re going to go back through each player from the 2020 Draft class (plus Chuma Okeke from the 2019 Draft class) to see how our predictions measured up against what actually happened.

(Note: Max deals are currently slightly under what was projected, as the cap 2024-25 cap projections came in lower than expected)

2020 Draft Class

#1 Anthony Edwards – Minnesota Timberwolves

Prediction: Five years, $207,350,000 (25% of the cap), no options; Designated Rookie language to bump the extension to five years, $248,820,000, no options

Actual: Five-year, Designated Rookie extension

We aren’t going to spend time crowing here. This was one of the bigger no-brainers on the board.

#2 James Wiseman – Detroit Pistons

Prediction: No extension

Actual: No extension

Wiseman will have a chance to show he’s worth spending on in free agency. The tricky part now? If Detroit has cap space aspirations, Wiseman’s $30.3 million cap hold probably has to go.

#3 LaMelo Ball – Charlotte Hornets

Prediction: Five years, $207,350,000 (25% of the cap), no options; Designated Rookie language to bump the extension to five years, $248,820,000, no options

Actual: Five-year, Designated Rookie extension

Same as with Edwards, this one was a no-brainer. Ball is the only sure-thing player on the Hornets roster.

#4 Patrick Williams – Chicago Bulls

Prediction: Five years, $100 million, no options

Actual: No extension

This could be one the Bulls regret not getting done. Williams may have wanted more money, especially after seeing what Devin Vassell and Jaden McDaniels got, and that’s likely why Chicago backed off. But if Williams has a big year, he’ll be an interesting restricted free agent this summer.

#5 Isaac Okoro – Cleveland Cavaliers

Prediction: No extension

Actual: No extension

No surprise here. Cleveland already signed Okoro’s theoretical replacement in Max Strus. That leaves Okoro playing for his next deal this season.

#6 Onyeka Okongwu – Atlanta Hawks

Prediction: No extension

Actual: Four years, $62 million

We wrote this in the prediction piece: “Normally, we’d say the Hawks should lock up Okongwu. But this team has so much long-term salary already committed for a middle-of-the-pack roster. Because of that, Atlanta may need to rebalance the roster a bit before taking care of Okongwu.” So much for that!

As it stands, Okongwu got one of the best deals from the team side. $15.5 million AAV for a guy who will probably be a good starting center in a year or two is tremendous value for an increasingly expensive Hawks team. And it frees up Atlanta to trade Clint Capela down the line to eventually rebalance the roster.

#7 Killian Hayes – Detroit Pistons

Prediction: No extension

Actual: No extension

No real surprise here. Hayes has looked good this preseason, and Monty Williams seems to be a fan. But there hasn’t been enough real production to warrant an extension.

#8 Obi Toppin – Indiana Pacers

Prediction: No extension, unless he’s traded. Then, four years and $70 million seems like a worthy gamble as an upside bet.

Actual: No extension

Despite being traded from the New York Knicks to the Indiana Pacers, Toppin didn’t get an extension. That’s fine. The Pacers are taking a wait-and-see approach. If Toppin breaks out, Indiana can control the process in restricted free agency.

#9 Deni Avdija – Washington Wizards

Prediction: No extension

Actual: Four years, $55 million

This one was a bit of a surprise. The Wizards committed MLE-equivalent money to Avdija, but structured the deal as a declining contract. He’s the best defender on the roster, even if he’s in a crowded perimeter forward mix. If nothing else, this is a very tradable deal for Washington down the line.

#10 Jalen Smith – Indiana Pacers

Smith had his third- and fourth-year options declined by the Phoenix Suns. He was traded to Indiana during the 2021-22 season. Smith then signed a three-year, $15.1 million with the Pacers in the summer of 2022.

#11 Devin Vassell – San Antonio Spurs 

Prediction: Five years, $115 million, no options

Actual: Five years, $135 million to $146 million

We wrote this in the original piece: “This is another one where the five-year allowance for non-max deals in the CBA could be big.”

That’s exactly how this played out, even if Vassell got more than we expected at the time. One key to the deal: The Spurs structured this deal to decline the maximum amount possible, to coincide with the season Victor Wembanyama’s already-presumed Designated Player rookie scale extension starts. Vassell’s contract then goes back up for the final season, which could aid in the next round of extension negotiations.

#12 Tyrese Haliburton – Indiana Pacers

Prediction: Five years, $207,350,000 (25% of the cap), no options; Designated Rookie language to bump the extension to five years, $248,820,000, no options

Actual: Five-year, Designated Rookie extension

Another no-brainer. Haliburton is a star.

#13 Kira Lewis Jr. – New Orleans Pelicans

Prediction: No extension

Actual: No extension

Lewis is more likely to get moved in a trade to avoid the luxury tax than he was to extend. New Orleans is about $2.9 million over the tax line. They won’t finish the year as a tax team.

#14 Aaron Nesmith – Indiana Pacers

Prediction: No extension

Actual: Three years, $33 million

This one was a real surprise. Nesmith was healthy and a nice fit with the Pacers last season. He makes sense in a lot of different lineup constructions. As we talked about in the opening, it used to be rare for a player to take less than the Non-Taxpayer MLE equivalent. In Nesmith’s case, given his health issues in his first two seasons, as well as his final college season, it makes sense to lock in the money now.

#15 Cole Anthony – Orlando Magic

Prediction: No extension

Actual: Three years, $39.1 million, team option on the final season

We said the Magic would probably let this play out, unless Anthony agreed to something team-friendly. Both sides sort of split the difference. Anthony gets a deal for roughly the equivalent of the MLE, but the Magic got a team option on Year 3. That’s smart business by both sides, given the Magic’s unsettled backcourt, Anthony’s talent and Orlando’s potential as a cap space team.

#16 Isaiah Stewart – Detroit Pistons

Prediction: No extension

Actual: Four years, $60 to $64 million, team option on the final season

This one was a surprise in both the timing and that it got done. Stewart signed this extension in early-July, which is usually a part of the calendar reserved for max extensions. The amount was a bit surprising too, but Stewart is the most-proven player among Detroit’s big men. He’s worth locking up for slightly more than the Non-Taxpayer MLE amount.

#17 Aleksej Pokusevski – Oklahoma City Thunder

Prediction: No extension

Actual: No extension

Pokusevski is again hurt and will miss the start of the regular season. There are still far too many unknowns for the Thunder to commit any kind of reasonable money to Pokusevski.

#18 Josh Green – Dallas Mavericks

Prediction: Four years, $70 million

Actual: Three years, $41 million

We were in range, but Green took less than we thought he’d get. This is another deal that looks pretty favorable towards the team. In exchange for taking less money, Green gets to get back on the market ahead of his age-27 season. That puts Green in line for a lucrative contract, should he keep developing.

#19 Saddiq Bey – Atlanta Hawks

Prediction: No extension

Actual: No extension

We thought the Hawks tax situation would make it tough for them to extend both Bey and Onyeka Okongwu. Instead, it seems to have been a “one or the other” situation, and Atlanta went with the big man. The Hawks also seem to be letting the forward situation play out a bit here, with Bey battling De’Andre Hunter and Jalen Johnson for minutes in a John Collins-less frontcourt.

#20 Precious Achiuwa – Toronto Raptors

Prediction: No extension

Actual: No extension

No surprise here, as things are too unsettled in Toronto to lock into a deal for a player who could eventually be traded. The Raptors have a lot to figure out this season, and Achiuwa’s development is another item on a long list.

#21 Tyrese Maxey – Philadelphia 76ers

Prediction: Five years, $207,350,000 (25% of the cap), no options

Actual: No extension

We’re still calling this one a win. Philadelphia didn’t extend Maxey, but not because he hasn’t earned it. They didn’t extend him because they are using his small-ish cap hold to try and maximize their cap space in the summer of 2024. Maxey is still going to get a max deal, it’ll just come a year later than it could have.

#22 Zeke Nnaji – Denver Nuggets

Prediction: No extension

Actual: Four years, $32 million, player option on the final season

This is another deal where we’re having to reframe our thinking. Nnaji locked in pretty solid money, given he’s been in and out of Denver’s rotation for his entire career. And he got the only player option in the class. In addition, Nnaji’s contract starts high and declines. That helps Denver, when they eventually extend Jamal Murray and the payroll is bumping against the second apron. If he breaks out during this deal, Nnaji can get back on the market of his own choosing in a few years.

#23 Leandro Bolmaro – out of the NBA

Bolmaro is out of the NBA after two non-descript seasons. He returned to Spain after a midseason waiver from the Utah Jazz. Bolmaro also signed a year late, so he would haven’t been extension-eligible anyway.

#24 R.J. Hampton – Detroit Pistons

Hampton was waived by the Orlando Magic before finishing the season with the Pistons. He’s got a non-guaranteed contract for next season with Detroit. Hampton also had his fourth-year option declined, which would have rendered him unable to extend, had he stayed with Orlando. (Hampton is now on a two-way contract with the Miami Heat.)

#25 Immanuel Quickley – New York Knicks

Prediction: Four years, $84 million with incentives that could bring it up to $90 million, no options

Actual: No extension

This is the most dangerous non-extension of them all. Quickley is good and other teams know it. He’s the kind of guy who makes sense as a restricted free agent target for just about everyone. That could put the Knicks in a tricky spot to match an offer sheet, or risk losing Quickley for nothing. Maybe a trade comes before then, or maybe New York feels confident in what is a pretty crowded guard group. But there’s a lot of risk on the Knicks side in not extending Quickley.

#26 Payton Pritchard – Boston Celtics

Prediction: No extension

Actual: Four years, $30 million

This one was a surprise, in that it’s another under-MLE extension, and it looked like Pritchard might get traded at the end of the season. Instead, he’s the backup point guard on a title contender, and Pritchard is paid fairly for that role for the next four seasons. If nothing else, Boston avoids bleeding more talent, when it’s hard for them to backfill due to the second apron. And, stop us if you’ve heard this before, it’s a tradable contract down the line.

#27 Udoka Azubuike – Utah Jazz

Azubuike had his fourth-year team option declined by the Jazz. Given the presence of Walker Kessler on the roster, it’s likely Azubuike will be playing elsewhere next season. (Azubuike is now on a two-way deal with the Phoenix Suns.)

#28 Jaden McDaniels – Minnesota Timberwolves

Prediction: four years, $100 million, no options

Actual: Five years, $131 to $136 million

McDaniels cashed in even more than we thought. Going the full five years is a win for the Timberwolves, which might have led to McDaniels getting more in terms of AAV than we predicted. This is still a really good deal for Minnesota and McDaniels both. The Wolves now have some cover if (when?) they trade either Karl-Anthony Towns or Rudy Gobert, between the extensions for McDaniels and Naz Reid. But in the short-term, the Wolves are going to be very expensive for a middle-of-the-pack team. That means moves are coming…eventually.

#29 Malachi Flynn – Toronto Raptors

Prediction: No extension

Actual: No extension

It’s more surprising that Flynn had both of his rookie scale options picked up than him not getting extended. This is approaching Last Chance Saloon time for Flynn, as far as saving his NBA career.

#30 Desmond Bane – Memphis Grizzlies

Prediction: Five years, $207,350,000 (25% of the cap), no options

Actual: Five years, $197 million to $206 million

Bane didn’t get the max deal we predicted, but he more or less did. If he hits his incentives, Bane will make the max. Given he’s the surest thing for Memphis this season (and possibly beyond), this is a terrific contract for both the Grizzlies and Bane.


2019 Draft Class

Chuma Okeke – Orlando Magic

Prediction: No extension

Actual: No extension

Okeke signed a year later, after being drafted in 2019. Even with the extra year, he hasn’t shown enough to land an extension. The Magic also have a ton of talent stockpiled at Okeke’s positions. He’s more of a trade candidate now than he ever was an extension candidate.