LeBron James and agent Rich Paul appear to have won the slight gamble they took when they let the Cavs sign James for just two years, with a player option after year one, rather than take a full four-year maximum contract. The new TV contracts are vastly more lucrative than the ones currently in effect, and the league revenues that result will lift the salary cap and player salaries around the league.
Most of the deals that players signed this summer either run just one or two seasons or include player options that allow the signees to hit free agency in the summer of 2016, when the TV money starts to roll in. It’s not quite clear just if or how the NBA will phase in the increases to the salary cap, but as it stands, 2016 is front and center on the minds of many around the league.
Still, there were several players who agreed to long-term deals this summer that won’t allow them to elect free agency in 2016. The prevailing assumption during the offseason was that TV money would increase revenues and the cap come 2016, but none of these free agents were likely aware of just how much the networks were willing to pay.
Not all of the players on the list below signed deals that were financially unfriendly to them. Few would argue that Nick Young cheated himself when he signed a four-year deal worth more than $21.3MM with the Lakers. Still, others might have been able to reap more had they taken a short-term deal to re-enter the market when teams will have more to spend.
This list doesn’t include rookie scale contracts or other deals signed by first-year players, many of whom don’t have the leverage to be choosy about the lengths of their contracts. The year in parentheses by each player’s name is the year that he can first hit free agency by his own volition, either by turning down a player option, exercising an early-termination option, or simply by playing out his contract. It doesn’t take into account team option years or non-guaranteed years. Teams can always terminate a contract early, setting the player up for free agency sooner, though that’s unlikely to happen if the player is still performing well enough to command a lucrative payday on the open market.
In any case, here are the veteran free agents who signed deals this summer that don’t allow them to choose to hit free agency in the summer of 2016:
- Carmelo Anthony, Knicks (2018)
- Trevor Ariza, Rockets (2018)
- DeJuan Blair, Wizards (2017)
- Eric Bledsoe, Suns (2019)
- Chris Bosh, Heat (2019)
- Avery Bradley, Celtics (2018)
- Vince Carter, Grizzlies (2017)
- Darren Collison, Kings (2017)
- Boris Diaw, Spurs (2018)
- Channing Frye, Magic (2018)
- Pau Gasol, Bulls (2017)
- Marcin Gortat, Wizards (2019)
- Devin Harris, Mavericks (2018)
- Spencer Hawes, Clippers (2017)
- Gordon Hayward, Jazz (2017)
- Kris Humphries, Wizards (2017)
- Grant Jerrett, Thunder (2018)
- Shaun Livingston, Warriors (2017)
- Kyle Lowry, Raptors (2017)
- Josh McRoberts, Heat (2017)
- Shelvin Mack, Hawks (2017)
- Jodie Meeks, Pistons (2017)
- C.J. Miles, Pacers (2017)
- Patty Mills, Spurs (2017)
- Anthony Morrow, Thunder (2017)
- Patrick Patterson, Raptors (2017)
- Mike Scott, Hawks (2017)
- Thabo Sefolosha, Hawks (2017)
- Lance Stephenson, Hornets (2017)
- Isaiah Thomas, Suns (2018)
- P.J. Tucker, Suns (2017)
- Nick Young, Lakers (2017)
Six others agreed to extensions that will take them past the summer of 2016:
- Kyrie Irving, Cavaliers (2019)
- Marcus Morris, Suns (2019)
- Markieff Morris, Suns (2019)
- Tony Parker, Spurs (2018)
- Zach Randolph, Grizzlies (2017)
- Kenneth Faried, Nuggets (2019 or 2020)*
* — The length of Faried’s deal, which has yet to become official, remains unclear.