Outside of Kevin Durant, perhaps the two most notable stars to sign new contracts so far this summer are players who weren’t yet free agents. James Harden renegotiated and extended his deal with the Rockets, while Russell Westbrook recently did the same with the Thunder. In both cases, the player received a significant raise on his 2016/17 salary in addition to tacking on a couple extra years to his contract.
The Rockets and Thunder, however, were only permitted to bump up Harden’s and Westbrook’s current-year salaries because they had the cap space necessary to accommodate those raises. For over-the-cap teams, contracts can be extended, but renegotiated raises of that magnitude aren’t allowed. Veteran players are generally only eligible to sign extensions with a new starting salary worth up to 7.5% more than the salary in the final season of the contract under its existing terms, or, in special cases, the contract’s average salary.
Veteran extensions aren’t like rookie-scale extensions, which allow teams to go over the cap to sign players for a salary up to the maximum. Plus, veteran extensions can cover no more than three new seasons (four total), whereas rookie-scale extensions can run as long as five. That’s why rookie-scale extensions are fairly common, while veteran extensions are much rarer — it usually makes more sense for veterans to wait until free agency, even if they want to re-up with their current teams.
Further limiting the scope of veteran extensions is the fact that a player may only sign one if he’s been under his existing contract for three years, or once three years have passed since the last time he signed an extension. That means any contract that doesn’t run at least four seasons can’t be extended.
The limitations on veteran extensions mean that we likely won’t see many more of those deals agreed upon this offseason, if any at all. There are some teams, such as the Jazz and Sixers, who have the cap room necessary to give their extension-eligible players a renegotiated raise for 2016/17, making such a deal plausible. And some extension-eligible veterans may not be in line for a major pay increase in 2017’s free agent period anyway, making them more inclined to ink an extension now. For the most part though, these players will eventually reach free agency without a new agreement in place.
The complete list of players currently eligible for veteran extensions is as follows:
- Atlanta Hawks
- Chicago Bulls
- Dallas Mavericks
- Andrew Bogut (eligible as of October 25)*
- Golden State Warriors
- Indiana Pacers
- Los Angeles Clippers
- Los Angeles Lakers
- Memphis Grizzlies
- Minnesota Timberwolves
- Nikola Pekovic (eligible as of August 15)
- New Orleans Pelicans
- New York Knicks
- Oklahoma City Thunder
- Orlando Magic
- Philadelphia 76ers
- Hollis Thompson (eligible as of September 24)
- Sacramento Kings
- DeMarcus Cousins (eligible as of September 30)
- Utah Jazz
- Washington Wizards
* — These players have been traded within the last six months, so they face further constraints. Veteran extensions for them can cover only two new years (three total), and the starting salary can be no more than 4.5% greater than the salary in the last season of the existing contract.
See the list of players eligible for rookie-scale extensions right here.
Roster Resource was used in the creation of this post. Chuck Myron contributed to this post.