Last night, Blake Griffin was one of four Los Angeles players named a starter for this month's All-Star Game. Griffin joins teammate Chris Paul, Lakers Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum, and Thunder forward Kevin Durant on the Western Conference squad that will play in Orlando. The presence of Griffin, whose dunk over Kendrick Perkins has been the talk of the league this week, is great for the NBA. It also could lead to a bigger payday down the road for the Clippers star.
The NBA's new Collective Bargaining Agreement introduced a new twist for players signing contract extensions following their rookie scale contract. A player entering his fifth season can sign an extension for up to 30% (rather than 25%) of the salary cap figure if he meets any of the following criteria in this first four years in the league:
- Named NBA MVP
- Named to the All-NBA first, second, or third team twice
- Voted an All-Star starter twice
Although the new rule is named after Derrick Rose, it was Kevin Durant who first benefited. When the league ruled that Durant was eligible for the maximum 30% extension, it added nearly $15MM to the total of the five-year extension he signed with the Thunder.
Since a knee injury wiped out his rookie campaign, Griffin will essentially have only three seasons to try to meet these criteria. He's not a likely candidate for the NBA MVP this year or next, and he hasn't made an All-NBA team yet, but this year's All-Star nod means another start next season would make him eligible for the 30% maximum.
Because the in-season extension deadline occurs before the All-Star starters are named, Griffin would have to wait until after the 2012/13 season to extend his contract if he intended to take advantage of the Derrick Rose Rule. Russell Westbrook, for instance, re-signed with the Thunder last week for 25% of the cap, though he potentially could have qualified for 30% if he'd waited until season's end.
In Westbrook's case, the Thunder made him their designated player, meaning Oklahoma City could offer him five years instead of just four. It's hard to imagine the Clippers saving that tag for anyone besides Griffin, so perhaps if the team makes a five-year, 25% offer next season, the former first overall pick would be happy to accept it. If his elite play continues and he waits though, Griffin could qualify for an extra $15MM+ in negotiating leverage via the Rose Rule.