The NBA’s Designated Veteran extension, introduced in the most recent Collective Bargaining Agreement, allows a player who would normally qualify for a maximum salary worth 30% of the cap to receive a salary worth 35% of the cap if he meets certain criteria related to performance and service time.
Assuming he meets the service-time requirements, earning an All-NBA spot is the most common way for a player to become eligible for a Designated Veteran contract. And, as we explained earlier today, at least a couple players appear to be in good position to gain eligibility for this form of contract – colloquially known as the “super-max” – by making an All-NBA team this spring.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, who would be the best bet for a super-max extension, will gain eligibility this year, but won’t technically be allowed to sign a new deal until 2020, since he doesn’t have the necessary seven years of NBA experience. With a Giannis super-max not possible for at least one more year, it’s not clear whether any Designated Veteran extensions will actually be signed in 2019.
Here are the only realistic candidates:
- Anthony Davis (Pelicans): Like Giannis, Davis qualified for a super-max deal a year before he was officially eligible to sign it, so it doesn’t matter whether or not he earns All-NBA honors this season. However, given AD’s desire to leave the Pelicans, a Designated Veteran extension looks like a real long shot anyway.
- Damian Lillard (Trail Blazers): Once he’s named to an All-NBA team this year, Lillard will become eligible to sign a four-year, maximum-salary extension. The only issue? It wouldn’t go into effect until the 2021/22 season, when Lillard will be 31 years old. Committing a $45MM+ annual salary to a player is scary enough — doing it two years in advance to lock up a player for his age 31-34 seasons is scarier. The Trail Blazers would have to think long and hard about whether to make such an offer.
- Bradley Beal (Wizards) / Kemba Walker (Hornets) / Klay Thompson (Warriors): It’s possible Beal, Walker, and Thompson will all miss out on an All-NBA spot this year, in which case none of them would be DVE-eligible. But if any of them do land on an All-NBA team, they’d qualify. Beal, like Lillard, would be eligible for a four-year extension starting in 2021/22, while free-agents-to-be Walker and Thompson would immediately be eligible to sign five-year, $220MM+ contracts with their current clubs.
Most of the other All-NBA contenders won’t meet the other required criteria for a Designated Veteran extension, based on their contract situations. The only exceptions are borderline All-NBA candidates such as Nikola Vucevic (Magic) or Andre Drummond (Pistons), who likely wouldn’t be serious super-max candidates even if they qualify.
When the Designated Veteran extension was introduced in 2017, four players – Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and John Wall – received them in fairly quick succession. No player has signed once since though, and based on this year’s top candidates, there’s no guarantee that will change anytime soon.
What do you think? Will any of the players mentioned in the list above sign a super-max contract in 2019, or will we go another year without one?
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