The drastic increases in the salary cap are still a year away, but the understanding that the changes are on the horizon seemed have a significant effect on this offseason. Perhaps one of the most demonstrable changes came in the amount of new five-year contracts. Free agents signed more five-year contracts this summer than in the previous three years put together, as I briefly noted during the initial July rush. It’s an indication that teams won a key power struggle with players.
The lure of better money a year from now made short-term deals ostensibly more attractive than ever for this year’s free agents. Conversely, teams had motivation to tie up valuable players for as long as possible now, lest they be able to command more money in a year or two, or three or four.
Few players, if any, have as much leverage as those whom teams deem worthy of maximum-salary deals, but even among that group, the number of five-year contracts was higher this year. Pen hit paper on only one five-year max deal per summer each of the previous three years, including last season, when Carmelo Anthony took slightly less than his max to re-sign with the Knicks. This year, a trio of players signed five-year max deals, including Kawhi Leonard, who indicated that the length of his deal intrigued him even more than the money. Leonard may be an outlier who wouldn’t necessarily have sought the most lucrative arrangement for himself no matter the cap dynamics, and Marc Gasol, at age 30, may have been wise to grab a max deal while he still can. It’s nonetheless worth wondering if the Cavs, and not Love, were the party that insisted upon five years in Kevin Love‘s deal.
The proliferation of five-year deals also indicates a willingness from players to stay put, and from teams to retain their existing talent, since only incumbent teams may offer five-year contracts.
Whatever the reasons, here’s a list of every five-year free agent contract signed the past four offseasons. Note that the list doesn’t include extensions, like the five-year pacts that Anthony Davis and Damian Lillard signed this summer, since those players weren’t free agents. Salaries are rounded to the nearest $1K.
- Marc Gasol, Grizzlies ($113.212MM — max)
- Kevin Love, Cavaliers ($113.212MM — max)
- Kawhi Leonard, Spurs ($94.343MM — max)
- Jimmy Butler, Bulls ($92.34MM)
- Goran Dragic, Heat ($85.002MM)
- Draymond Green, Warriors ($82MM)
- Reggie Jackson, Pistons ($80MM)
- Brandon Knight, Suns ($70MM)
- Khris Middleton, Bucks ($70MM)
- Omer Asik, Pelicans ($52.978MM)
- Jae Crowder, Celtics ($35MM)
- Kyle Singler, Thunder ($24.3MM)
- Carmelo Anthony, Knicks ($124.065MM)
- Chris Bosh, Heat ($118.705MM — max)
- Eric Bledsoe, Suns ($70MM)
- Marcin Gortat, Wizards ($60MM)
- Deron Williams, Nets ($98.772MM — max)
- George Hill, Pacers ($40MM)
- Ersan Ilyasova, Bucks ($40MM)
- Jason Thompson, Kings ($30.188MM)
The Basketball Insiders salary pages were used in the creation of this post.
Do you think teams and players will continue to sign a larger number of five-year deals each summer, or is this just a one-year phenomenon? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.