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It doesn’t always go this way, but sometimes the eye test matches the statistical analysis of a player. Sometimes you look at the stats, check out the film and it all just makes sense.

That’s De’Aaron Fox of the Sacramento Kings this season.

The numbers show improvement all over the floor for Fox. Watching him play matches those numbers. The seventh-year guard isn’t a drastically different player in terms of look or style. But subtle changes are there, and they’ve made all the difference in Fox going from a good player to an All-Star to an All-NBA level of player over the last few seasons.

2022-23 was the first season that Fox finished the year above 50% from the field (he shot 51.2% overall). Working an expertly-crafted two-man game with Domantas Sabonis, Fox took 42.2% of his shots in and around the paint. That was down a bit from the prior season, when the Kentucky product was at 46.6% of his shots in the same area.

Where did those four percentage points go from 2021-22 to 2022-23? To three-pointers. Fox took 27.6% of his shots from behind the arc last season, up from 22.8% the prior season.

This season, Fox’s shot profile has changed even more dramatically. And it’s made all the difference.

Fox is still in the same range in and around the paint, as he’s at 41.2% of his shots coming from that area. This season though, Fox is at a whopping (for him) 36.2% of his shots coming from behind the arc.

How did he get there? The Kings point guard has limited his mid-range attempts to 17.5% of his shot diet (his lowest mark in the last three seasons). More importantly, Fox has all but eliminated the long two-point shot from his profile. This season, just 0.5% of his shots are long twos. That’s the lowest mark of his career.

Essentially, Fox has turned a few less shots near the basket and a lot fewer mid-range and long-twos into three-pointers. And he’s done so with the best three-point shooting of his career, in terms of volume plus efficiency. Fox is hitting 36.9% of his 8.1 three-point attempts per game. That easily tops his previous high of 5.5 triples attempted per game.

When you watch Fox, he remains arguably the fastest player in the NBA with the ball in his hands. He’s still a blur, but it’s a bit more selective now. The Kings no longer race up and down the floor with a “we’ll figure it out when we get there” attitude. Everything is a lot more calculated and that’s keyed by Fox and Sabonis.

Sabonis is one of the league’s best rebounders. It’s common for a possession to start with Sabonis pulling a board off the glass and outlet passing it to Fox, like one would pluck an apple off the tree and toss it to a companion. What doesn’t happen as much anymore is Fox then turning on the jets and attacking the rim while two or three teammates are still making it over halfcourt.

Those pell-mell drives have been replaced with Fox letting Sabonis get to his spot at the top of the key. From there, the two work opponents into submission with traditional pick-and-roll and dribble-hand-off plays. Press up too much to take those actions away, and the Kings back cut and flare into layups and open jumpers.

Sacramento’s offense isn’t as destructive as last season. There are a lot of reasons for this. They aren’t catching anyone by surprise anymore. Teams know the Kings are good and respect them as such. They aren’t making as many shots and the free throws are down a bit. That’s probably related to the lack of surprise from opponents. Everything is a little harder, but the Kings are still making it work.

And that’s largely because of Fox. We talked about the change in his shooting profile, but he’s also moving the ball well and getting on the glass more than ever. His defense is also more engaged, as he’s harnessed his speed and quickness for more than just beating people on the other end. He’s also attempting more free throws than ever, which signifies he’s gotten the respect from officials, as well as opponents.

If you add it all up, De’Aaron Fox is a star. And he’s going to get paid like one.

Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes reported that Fox turned down a two-year, $105 million extension from the Kings this past summer. (Depending on the cap projection you use, Fox could have gotten slightly more at just over $107 million.) It was reported that Fox did so in hopes of earning an even bigger extension from Sacramento down the line.

Fox is in Year 3 of the five-year rookie scale extension he signed with Sacramento in November of 2020. (Note: the NBA was working on an adjusted calendar in 2020, due to the COVID-19 impacted seasons) He has two seasons and nearly $72 million (fully guaranteed) left on that extension after this one.

That deal, plus Fox’s improved play, give him all kinds of options on his next deal. Let’s dive in!

The Veteran Extension

Let’s start by saying Fox can’t extend right now. His window to sign any sort of extension closed when this season started. He’ll have to wait until the 2024 offseason to ink any kind of extension.

Fox could sign a Veteran Extension this coming summer that looks like this:

  • 2024-25: $34,848,340 (Year 4 of current contract)
  • 2025-26: $37,096,620 (Year 5 of current contract)
  • 2026-27: $51,546,000 (Year 1 of a Veteran Extension)
  • 2027-28: $55,669,680 (Year 2 of a Veteran Extension)
  • 2028-29: $59,793,360 (Year 3 of a Veteran Extension)
  • Total: three years, $167,009,040 in new money via a Veteran Extension

This one is a bit complicated, so hang with us here. Fox is in Year 7 of his career right now. When his current contract ends, he’ll have nine years of service. That qualifies, and caps, him for an extension that starts at 30% of the cap. For now, that projects to be $51,546,000 for the 2026-27 season.

Fox could technically sign an extension for 140% of the final year of his current contract. That would be for $51,935,268 in first-year salary. As that number is above Fox’s currently projected max salary for the 2026-27 season, he’d end up capped at the 30% of the cap amount and $51,546,000.

In reality, how this would likely work is that Fox would extend for 140% amount, and if the cap doesn’t go up enough, his salary would force back down to the 30% of the cap maximum.

In this case, we’re using the projected $51,546,000 maximum amount, plus 8% raises, to determine the Fox’s Veteran Extension number.

The potentially bigger challenges? If Fox extended as early as this summer via the Veteran Extension, he’d only be allowed to add three new years to his contract. Contracts extended via the Veteran Extension can only total five years in length, including years remaining on the current contract. And he’d be capped at the 30% of the cap maximum.

That leaves Fox waiting and playing for more. Let’s take a look what’s potentially at stake.

The Designated Veteran Extension signed in 2024

In order to qualify to sign a Designated Veteran Extension in 2024, which would allow for Fox to jump to the 35% of the cap maximum salary tier and to add an additional year, he would have to achieve one of the following this season:

  • Win MVP
  • Win Defensive Player of the Year
  • Make an All-NBA Team

As much as Fox has improved, he’s probably not going to win MVP. We can also safely take DPOY of the table too. But an All-NBA nod is very much in play.

If Fox qualified for a Designated Veteran Extension and signed it this summer, that deal would look like this:

  • 2024-25: $34,848,340 (Year 4 of current contract)
  • 2025-26: $37,096,620 (Year 5 of current contract)
  • 2026-27: $60,137,000 (Year 1 of a Designated Veteran Extension)
  • 2027-28: $64,947,960 (Year 2 of a Designated Veteran Extension)
  • 2028-29: $69,758,920 (Year 3 of a Designated Veteran Extension)
  • 2029-30: $74,569,880 (Year 4 of a Designated Veteran Extension)
  • Total: four years, $269,413,760 in new money via a Designated Veteran Extension

In this scenario, Fox could add four years of new money on his deal. The contract would start at the projected 35% of the cap maximum of $60,137,000 and would include 8% raises.

Comparing new money in a Designated Veteran Extension to new money in a Veteran Extension, you can see Fox stands to add more than $100 million in new money.

It’s easy to see why Fox is betting on himself. There’s one more scenario worth exploring though.

The Designated Veteran Extension signed in 2025

Let’s say De’Aaron Fox doesn’t choose the path chosen by fellow Kentucky products Devin Booker and Karl-Anthony Towns, who both signed four-year Designated Veteran Extensions as soon as they were able. Fox could choose to delay signing his extension by a year to add even more money, but it comes at a risk.

For one, Fox would have to be certain he could make All-NBA for the 2024-25 season (or win MVP or DPOY). If he misses out for 2024-25, Fox would no longer be eligible to sign a Designated Veteran Extension in 2025.

But let’s say he either doesn’t qualify for Designated Veteran Extension status this season, or he chooses to wait, but does qualify next season, here’s what Fox would be looking at extending for in the summer of 2025:

  • 2025-26: $37,096,620 (Year 5 of current contract)
  • 2026-27: $60,137,000 (Year 1 of a Designated Veteran Extension)
  • 2027-28: $64,947,960 (Year 2 of a Designated Veteran Extension)
  • 2028-29: $69,758,920 (Year 3 of a Designated Veteran Extension)
  • 2029-30: $74,569,880 (Year 4 of a Designated Veteran Extension)
  • 2030-31: $79,380,840 (Year 5 of a Designated Veteran Extension)
  • Total: five years, $348,794,600 in new money via a Designated Veteran Extension

Whew boy!

Those numbers are staggering, even more so than the four-year Designated Veteran Extension. Nearly $350 million in total money, and approaching $80 million in the final year of the deal. For perspective, Years 4 and 5 would be worth more than the $70 million per season that Shohei Ohtani just got from the Los Angeles Dodgers in Major League Baseball.

To recap: This is the 35% of the cap maximum salary in 2026-27 with 8% raises, but with the addition of a fifth year.

The Designated Veteran Contract

Let’s say De’Aaron Fox missed out on All-NBA in 2023-24 AND 2024-25. He’ll have one more chance to qualify for big money by making All-NBA in 2025-26 (or, of course, winning MVP or DPOY).

If Fox were to make All-NBA in the final year of his current contract in 2025-26, he’d be eligible for the exact same deal listed out as above. However, this would not be as an extension, but as a new contract. The salaries and years would be the same, starting at 35% of the cap maximum in 2026-27 with 8% raises over a five-year contract.


De’Aaron Fox has established himself as an All-Star. His play, through the eye test and the stats, supports that. And, just as importantly, the Sacramento Kings are winning.

Sacramento has been aggressive in extending their own players, as seen with Fox’s rookie scale extension. He got the max he could, when some were questioning if that was too much. Clearly, the Kings front office got that one right.

Sacramento was equally as proactive in extending Domantas Sabonis. They used cap space to renegotiate Sabonis’ contract for this season to then give him four years and $186 million in new money.

Expect the Kings to be similarly aggressive with Fox. Clearly, from Chris Haynes’ reporting for Bleacher Report, Sacramento already tried to extend the All-Star guard. This relationship isn’t breaking up anytime soon. Both sides want it to continue. It’s just about timing things out for the right deal for both sides.

Fox was right to decline that extension offer. Yes, more than $100 million for two new seasons is incredible money for a guy who has earned about $115 million in his career to date. But Fox is in position to cash in even more.

If Fox makes All-NBA this season, expect him to ink a four-year Designated Veteran Extension that currently projects at $269.4 million in new salary. That’s the path that both Devin Booker and Karl-Anthony Towns took with the Designated Veteran Extensions. It’s the smart one, as the player both capitalizes on what they’ve earned, while removing the risk of having to do it again the next season.

But it’s that second part that is also key. Let’s say Fox’s play falls off and he doesn’t make All-NBA this season. He’ll still have two more cracks at making it in either 2024-25 or 2025-26. And if he does it then, he’ll be able to sign for five years on his next deal, instead of being capped at four years.

It’s also fair to speculate if either the four- or five-year option, should Fox qualify, will come with a player option on the final season. Fox will be 28 years old, and in the frontend of his prime, when his current contract extends. His next deal, no matter what fashion it comes in, will see him wrap it up in his early-30s. An option on the final season, could be in play. Towns got one in his deal, while Booker didn’t. Jaylen Brown didn’t get one in his five-year Designated Veteran Extension, but Bradley Beal did (along with a trade bonus and the coveted and infamous no-trade clause!) in his recent max deal.

It’s looking likely that a player option may be the only source of real negotiation for De’Aaron Fox and the Sacramento Kings. Everything points to Fox making the All-NBA leap over the next year or two. At that point, a “supermax” deal is coming. It’s just a matter of when, not if.