Some guys entering the last year of their contract are willing to take a little haircut on their salary in the short term to get the security of a healthy-sized multi-year deal. For example, Andre Iguodala is expected to opt out of his $16.1 million contract for next season to seek a long-term deal (likely for four years and worth well north of $50 million).
Emeka Okafor is not one of those guys.
The Wizards big man says he plans to stay with the Wizards for one more year, he told CSNWashington.com. And for him this is the right move.
Okafor is due to make $14.48 million and has a player-option on whether to terminate it and become a free agent. That he will stay seems like a no-brainer, unless he wants to latch on to a championship contender and take a steep pay cut. It won’t become official until the signing period opens July 1. Okafor makes $13.49 million this season….
“My plan is to be here next year,” Okafor said Sunday after contributing 19 points and 10 rebounds in a 109-92 win vs. the Toronto Raptors. “My mind-set is to be here next year. I just think that this team has a lot of potential. If we had everybody healthy, it would be a different around here. We’d be playing for (playoff) position.”
More than just team potential, this is about money. While Iguodala will make that big payday back and then some on the open market, Okafor is more likely to see his contract half of what he is set to make next season. Better to get the big payday then see what the market offers in a year.
Tristan Thompson is a man without a contract. By not signing the qualifying offer with the Cleveland Cavaliers he put himself in limbo, the rare NBA holdout. Right now his options are to sign the deal on the table (the Cavs still have the five-year, $80 million offer out there), get the Sixers or Blazers to offer him a max contract (which neither team has shown any interest in doing), or hold out and hope the Cavaliers make a better offer. If he holds out for the entire season he becomes a restricted free agent again next summer — exactly like he is right now.
Without signing the qualifying offer and the threat of leaving, Thompson hurt his leverage.
But he has a little leverage. He and his agent Rich Paul had one other card, and it got played Saturday.
LeBron James and Thompson share an agent in Paul. LeBron has largely remained silent through this process but if he wants something in the Cleveland organization, he usually gets it. And he wants Thompson back at practices.
LeBron’s leverage is going to be put to the test. The Cavaliers have let it leak they are not that concerned about LeBron leaving them next summer over this — and they’re right. The damage to LeBron’s brand if he broke the hearts of Cleveland fans again would be crushing, unless he leaves for a very good reason. Overpaying Thompson is not that reason.
However, LeBron’s comment could push the Cavaliers to try to find a compromise.
For the Cavaliers, a lot of how they view all this comes down to their tax bill. The Cavaliers already have $94.9 million in guaranteed salary on the books, putting them $10.2 million over the luxury tax line, at a cost of more than $16.25 million. What this means if (or when) they sign Thompson is his first $10 million in salary would cost them $28.75 million in tax and every dollar above that for the next $5 million costs them $3.75-to-$1. Look at it this way, by my count $14 million this year to Thompson would cost $43.75 million in tax — the total for Thompson at that price is $58 million. While that’s not all on Thompson it’s a lot of cash, and Thompson wants a max deal that starts at more than $16 million a year.
Owner Dan Gilbert is already going to pay the highest tax bill in the NBA this season, but if he balks at those figures it’s hard to blame him.
Mario Hezonja, the No. 5 pick in this year’s draft, has never lacked for confidence. The Croatian guard made his pro debut in the Magic’s preseason game against the Hornets on Saturday and did this:
Between Hezonja, Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo and Aaron Gordon, the Magic have a nucleus of young players that has the potential to be a lot of fun. Even if they’re still a few years away from contending, they’re definitely going to be a League Pass favorite this year.