The possibility of a Kawhi Leonard contract extension with the Spurs has been a subject of discussion for much of the year, but Leonard wasn’t officially eligible to sign a new deal until today.
A veteran NBA player who signs a five-year contract becomes eligible to have that contract extended three years after it was signed. Leonard inked his current five-year deal with the Spurs on July 16, 2015, meaning today is the three-year anniversary of that signing.
Because he was named to one of the league’s All-NBA teams in both 2016 and 2017, Leonard is eligible for a Designated Veteran Extension, which means he could earn a starting salary worth up to 35% of the cap – rather than just 30% – on a new deal with the Spurs.
We won’t know exactly what such an extension would be worth until the 2019/20 salary cap is finalized. However, a five-year 35% max contract starting in ’19/20 based on the NBA’s current $109MM cap projection would have a starting salary of $38.15MM and an overall value of $221.27MM, including a fifth-year salary of $50.358MM.
The terms of a potential Leonard extension may ultimately be irrelevant though, since the star forward has shown no interest in staying in San Antonio long term. The Spurs likely won’t be willing to put that $221MM+ offer on the table anyway, since Leonard is coming off an injury-plagued 2017/18 campaign in which he appeared in just nine games. He wouldn’t be able to get the same deal with any other team.
Since the NBA introduced the Designated Veteran Extension in its most recent Collective Bargaining Agreement, the only players to sign such a deal are Stephen Curry, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and John Wall.