Next Contract Series: Myles Turner
NBA trade season is right around the corner. The early trade window opens on December 15, which is when the vast majority of players who signed deals over the offseason become trade-eligible. And if we’re closing in on trade season, that must mean it’s time for a fresh batch of Myles Turner trade rumors!
This is Year 8 for Turner, with all of them coming with the Indiana Pacers. For at least four or five of those years, he’s been one of the most-often mentioned players in trade rumors. The reasons for that are two-fold for Turner.
Keeping it on the floor first, Turner is a somewhat unique player. He has the ability to stretch the floor on offense, while protecting the rim on defense. That makes Turner fairly plug-and-play in most systems that NBA teams run.
Secondly, but of equal importance, Turner is on a very tradable contract. He’s in the final year of a four-year, $72 million rookie scale extension that he signed in 2018. Any NBA contract is tradable, but a deal for less than $20 million is generally very easy to match salary for.
Combine the production and the contract, and Turner is consistently in trade rumors. Then, factor in that he’ll only turn 27 years old in March, plus the Pacers being in a rebuild, and the rumor mill is hitting overdrive.
But…Turner is on an expiring contract. That means a new deal is coming soon. Traded or not, Myles Turner is only eight months (at most!) from getting a big new contract. What we’re going to do today is look at what that new contract might look like.
The Veteran Extension
Myles Turner is eligible through the end of the league year to sign a veteran extension with the Indiana Pacers. Because he’s on an expiring deal, Turner’s ability to extend with Indiana runs all the way through June 30.
Here’s what a maximum veteran extension would look like for Turner:
- 2023-24: $21,600,000
- 2024-25: $23,328,000
- 2025-26: $25,056,000
- 2026-27: $26,784,000
- Total: four years, $96,768,000
That’s a 120% raise off of Turner’s $18,000,000 salary for 2022-23, with 8% raises in the years after that.
At first glance, that doesn’t look bad. It’s nearly $100 million for Turner into his early-30s. But it’s well short of Turner’s maximum salary that he could collect as a free agent. In addition, with the cap projected to go way up over the next few years, Turner would be better off betting on himself than taking even a slightly under-market extension.
Re-signing with the Pacers as a free agent
Let’s say Myles Turner sticks in Indiana despite the rumors (he’s made it seven years already!) and the Pacers rebuild seems ahead of schedule. Maybe Turner will want to re-sign with Indiana.
The Pacers can offer him a max deal that would look like this:
- 2023-24: $40,200,000
- 2024-25: $43,416,000
- 2025-26: $46,632,000
- 2026-27: $49,848,000
- 2027-28: $53,064,000
- Total: five years, $233,160,000
That’s the full 30% max Turner is eligible for with eight years or service. This deal also includes the maximum 8% raises for Turner.
An average annual value (AAV) of $46.6 million feels a bit steep for Turner. You’d have to believe he can become an All-NBA center to commit that much money to him at this point. But, we’ve now established the absolute top-end max we’re looking at for the Pacers big man.
Signing with another team as a free agent:
Continuing with our scenarios, let’s say Turner isn’t traded (again, he’s made it seven years already!), but he and/or the Pacers are ready to move on this summer. Turner will be an unrestricted free agent and here’s the max he could get from another team:
- 2023-24: $40,200,000
- 2024-25: $42,210,000
- 2025-26: $44,220,000
- 2026-27: $46,230,000
- Total: four years, $172,860,000
That’s still 30% of the cap, but the raises are only 5%. And, because Turner would be changing teams, he’d be limited to only signing a four-year deal. Players can only get a five-year contract when re-signing with their current team.
That’s an AAV of $43 million or so. If we compare to a four-year max from the Pacers, it’s a difference of about $2 million per season in terms of AAV. If a $43 million AAV still seems steep, remember that we’re setting max points here.
We’ve now got three max data points locked in: The Veteran Extension, max with the Pacers and max with another team. But there are a couple of other scenarios we need to consider for Turner, as well.
You might have heard that Myles Turner is in trade rumors. (Just kidding! We know you know that.) But what if a team wanted Turner locked in for years beyond this season? The Pacers and the acquiring team, along with Turner, could agree on an extend-and-trade deal. It would look like this:
- 2022-23: $18,000,000
- 2023-24: $18,900,000
- 2024-25: $19,845,000
- Total: three years, $56,745,000
We included the current year for Turner, since an extend-and-trade is extremely restrictive. In an extend-and-trade, the total length of the contract can only be three seasons. In this case, Turner can only add two new years onto his current deal. In addition, raises in an extend-and-trade are limited to 5%.
As you can see, Turner would be adding (in relative terms) very little to his current salary in an extend-and-trade. Essentially, Turner would have to really, really want to be heading to the acquiring team to do a deal like this. A more likely scenario would be Turner is traded to a new team and simply signs a new contract as a free agent in July.
Extending after a trade
If Myles Turner was to be traded to another team, he could still extend with that team. Unfortunately, he’d have to wait six months to sign an extension which is larger than the extend-and-trade scenario laid out above. That makes timing really, really important to watch as to when Turner would theoretically be traded.
And, in that extension, the acquiring team would still be capped at offering the Veteran Extension. That contract would look exactly the same as laid out above.
It’s extremely rare for an NBA contract to be renegotiated. First, a player must be extension-eligible. That’s a fairly small list of players each season. Of that list, the player must be on a team that has cap space available in order to complete the renegotiation portion of the renegotiate-and-extend.
Going back to 2015, only three players have completed a renegotiate-and-extend deal. Robert Covington did a four-year deal with the Philadelphia 76ers in 2017. And Danilo Gallinari (two years) and Wilson Chandler (four years) signed renegotiate-and-extend deals with the Denver Nuggets in 2015.
Myles Turner fits both of these criteria at this moment. Turner is extension-eligible and the Indiana Pacers are sitting on up to $30 million in available cap space.
Pegging what an renegotiate-and-extend could look like is a bit tricky. Because the team would use existing cap space, they aren’t really limited to just the 120% allowed in a Veteran Extension.
That means it’s all about negotiation on that first-year salary, but that also has an impact on the subsequent years as well.
In a renegotiation-and-extend deal, a player is eligible to take their contract all the way up to their maximum salary, assuming the team has enough available cap space to do so. In this case, Turner makes $18 million for this season, with a maximum salary of $37,096,500. That’s a difference of roughly $19.1 million, which the Pacers are certainly able to give Turner given their existing cap space.
In full, if Turner did a renegotiate-and-extend deal for the max he’s allowed, it would look like this:
- 2022-23: $37,096,500
- 2023-24: $40,064,220
- 2024-25: $43,031,940
- 2025-26: $45,999,660
- 2026-27: $48,967,380
- Total: five years, $215,159,700
This contract would take Turner’s salary from $18,000,000 to his max of $37,096,500 for this season. Then the additional years would have an 8% raise on them. Once again, the renegotiation to the max allowable for Turner is made possible by the Pacers still having up to $30 million in cap space available.
It’s important to note that the above is the max Turner could get in a renegotiate-and-extend deal. The Pacers and Turner could agree on any number in terms of renegotiated 2022-23 salary up to his max, and they could also agree to deal that runs less than five total years, or less than 8% raises.
In addition, Indiana and Turner could agree to get really funky with a new deal and lower the first season of the extension by up to 40% off of the renegotiated 2022-23 salary. That would bring Turner’s deal in the first year of the extension in 2023-24 down to around $22 million. Essentially, Turner would get a bonus in this current league year, using Indiana’s leftover cap space, and then tack on a few years at a more reasonable number moving forward.
Note: Turner can only do a renegotiation-and-extension with Pacers.
We’ve given five options for Myles Turner’s next deal. We can eliminate the Veteran Extension and the Extend-and-Trade as viable options, as they aren’t going to pay Turner enough for him to sign either of those deals. He’d simply be leaving too much money on the table.
That leaves three realistic options: Turner re-signs with the Pacers, leaves Indiana in free agency or does a Renegotiate-and-Extend deal to stay in the only NBA home he’s ever known.
Despite the fact that Turner is constantly in trade rumors, it’s important to note that he’s never actually been traded. There has to be something to that. Players rarely make it through years and years of rumors to end up staying with a team. When that happens, it’s generally because the player and the team have no desire to end their relationship.
With that in mind, a Renegotiate-and-Extend may be Turner’s best option. It doesn’t rule out a trade long-term, but it would increase the odds of Turner sticking around in Indiana. The key is to keep Turner a viable trade asset on the next contract.
If the Pacers have no other plans for their nearly $30 million in remaining cap space, why not use $19 million or so to bring Turner up to his max of $37.1 million for this season? Think of that as a bonus for his years of service to the Pacers and for signing what will likely be a balanced (read: team-friendly) extension in the subsequent years. And it’s those subsequent years that matter.
Here’s a proposal for a deal that could work for both Turner and Indiana:
- 2022-23: $37,096,500 (renegotiated up from $18,000,000)
- 2023-24: $24,000,000
- 2024-25: $25,920,000
- 2025-26: $27,840,000
- 2026-27: $29,760,000
- Total: five years, $144.6 million
This deal would see Turner get a bump up to his full max for this season using some of Indiana’s available cap space. Then, he would add on what is essentially a four-year, $107.5 million extension. That’s an AAV of almost $27 million per year. That’s kind of right in the sweet spot between the $25 and $30 million per year value that seems fair for turner on his next deal.
If you prefer, add the $19 million or so extra from the renegotiation portion of the deal, and Turner would get roughly $126 million in new money. That would bring the AAV for the new years to about $31.5 million. Just over the target range, but without getting crazy.
The other option for the Pacers, and perhaps a preferable one, would be to reverse the cap hits on the extension. That deal would look like this:
- 2022-23: $37,096,500 (renegotiated up from $18,000,000)
- 2023-24: $29,760,000
- 2024-25: $27,840,000
- 2025-26: $25,920,000
- 2026-27: $24,000,000
- Total: five years, $144.6 million
The overall money remains the same, but Turner takes just less than an 8% decline in salary year over year. That way, when Turner is approaching his early-30s in the later years of the deal, the cap hits are reasonable for a player of that age and he remains tradable from Indiana’s point of view.
Myles Turner and the Indiana Pacers are in an interesting spot. Trade rumors will continue to be floated, probably even after Turner signs a new deal. But because the rare circumstances exist to do a Renegotiate-and-Extend deal, it would behoove the Pacers and Turner to take advantage and at least extend their partnership for a little while longer.