Al Horford isn’t going to talk contract with the Hawks until after the season, as he told Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, but the idea that the big man, whose contract expires next summer, isn’t anxious to entertain an extension shouldn’t alarm Hawks fans. An extension for Horford, like most top-tier veterans, would entail a financial sacrifice so profound that it essentially precludes any legitimate consideration of the idea.
Veterans are only eligible to receive a starting salary of 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. Teams with cap room can go beyond these constraints, via a renegotiation, but the circumstances that lead to that are so rarely in place that when the Nuggets pulled off renegotiations with Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari this summer, they were only the first and second renegotiations under the 2011 collective bargaining agreement.
Veteran extensions aren’t like rookie scale extensions, which allow players to sign for up to the maximum salary. Plus, veteran extensions can cover no more than three additional seasons, whereas rookie scale extensions can run as long as five. Rookie scale extensions more closely resemble free agent deals. Horford could sign a five-year contract in free agency next summer starting at as much as $24.9MM, the projected max for a player with his level of experience. A veteran extension for Horford would entail the equivalent of a three-year contract starting at only $12.9MM. The choice is clear.
The same logic would apply to Serge Ibaka, who just today joined the ranks of those eligible for a veteran extension. That’s not so for Jeff Green, who wouldn’t realistically be able to command a max contract next summer. He’ll become eligible for a veteran extension Saturday, and it would be reasonable to envision him signing one with the Grizzlies between now and the expiration of his contract next June 30th.
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 complete list of players currently eligible for veteran extensions is below:
- Ryan Anderson, Pelicans
- Nicolas Batum, Hornets*
- Mike Conley, Grizzlies
- Jamal Crawford, Clippers
- Jared Dudley, Wizards*
- Kevin Durant, Thunder
- Eric Gordon, Pelicans
- Blake Griffin, Clippers
- Raymond Felton, Mavericks
- Roy Hibbert, Lakers*
- George Hill, Pacers
- Al Horford, Hawks
- Serge Ibaka, Thunder
- Ersan Ilyasova, Pistons*
- Joe Johnson, Nets
- Courtney Lee, Grizzlies
- David Lee, Celtics*
- Ian Mahinmi, Pacers
- Nene, Wizards
- Joakim Noah, Bulls
- Steve Novak, Thunder*
- Derrick Rose, Bulls
- Gerald Wallace, Sixers*
- Russell Westbrook, Thunder
The following players will become eligible for veteran extensions soon:
- Jeff Green (Grizzlies) becomes extension-eligible on Saturday.
- Ty Lawson (Rockets) becomes extension-eligible on October 30th.*
- Stephen Curry (Warriors) becomes extension-eligible on October 31st.
- DeMar DeRozan (Raptors) becomes extension-eligible on October 31st.
- Taj Gibson (Bulls) becomes extension-eligible on October 31st.
- James Harden (Rockets) becomes extension-eligible on October 31st.
- Jrue Holiday (Pelicans) becomes extension-eligible on October 31st.
See the list of players eligible for rookie scale extensions right here.
* — These players have been traded within the last six months, so they face further constraints. Veteran extensions for them can cover only two seasons, and the starting salary can be no more than 4.5% greater than the salary in the last season in the existing contract.
Keeping in mind that veteran stars have no financial motivation to sign an extension, which player or players on this list do you think would be strong extension candidates? Leave a comment to tell us.