When you trade for a guy on an expiring contract, there’s always the risk that, much like a date after the first night out, they won’t see a future with you. There’s still a feeling of rejection when someone says they prefer the company of others to your exclusive company. You have to worry about them bolting, leaving you with nothing after all the assets sent out. That was the Magic’s dilemma. They knew they were going to be terrible, and that getting someone to opt-in for more years of awfulness was going to be a sell they couldn’t make.
The Nuggets, though, at least off the bat, don’t have that concern. At his introductory press conference with the Nuggets on Thursday, Andre Iguodala offered up a pretty frank opinion his future. He has a player option for 2013-2014 but there was no “We’ll deal with all that later” from Iguodala. From the Denver Post:
Iguodala made some news at the news conference, admitting that he wants to sign with Denver long-term. He is currently under contract for 2012-13 and has a player option for 2013-14.
“We weren’t coming into this thinking this will be a one-year deal,” Iguodala said.
Denver executives Josh Kroenke and Masai Ujiri were also at the news conference. Ujiri spoke about how the team would like to lock down “Iggy” to a long-term deal, something he will look into in the coming season.
Great, so he can get an extension and he’ll sign it and everyone’s happy! Right?
Not so much. Here’s the thing. The new CBA, under these circumstances, actually does the exact opposite of what it’s intended to do. Instead of creating a system where the logical thing is to opt in with your current team, the CBA makes it where there’s absolutely no incentive for an All-Star caliber player who’s healthy to sign an extension versus entering free agency. At that point, the most lucrative option is to re-sign with the current team, but you still have to get to free agency to get it.
See, the new CBA says that you can re-sign with your team using Bird Rights for five years. You can sign with another team for four. But it also says that an extension can only be granted for four seasons, including those left on the contract. In this instance, Iguodala would sign an extension and be under contract with the Nuggets through 2017. But if he enters free agency, he can get a contract that pays him guaranteed through 2018.
So the guaranteed money is there, and it matters.
Now, Iguodala may forgo that option just to get the thing done. Maybe he’ll do it to reward the Nuggets for their faith in him. Maybe he’ll do it so he can leave sooner but still get paid. There’s no difference in the raise structure between the five-year-max, the four-year-max, and the extension. But it doesn’t change the situation. There’s almost no incentive for Iguodala to sign an extension vs. opting out, and that point, anything can happen, even if the most money can come his way from Denver.
Aren’t you glad we had that lockout now?