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New veteran-designated-player rule could land Stephen Curry $209 million contract from Warriors

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The initial reporting on the new veteran designated player rule focused on contract length in extensions.

Turns out veteran designated players will be eligible for higher max salaries. But they must meet certain criteria.

(Veteran designated player has been frequently called a designated-player exception or DPE. Because it’s unclear whether or when it’s truly an exception, I’m not yet calling it one.)

Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post:

A player qualifies for the DPE,  which can be used either to give a player a contract extension or to sign him as a free agent, if he does one of the following:

1. He makes one of the three all-NBA teams or is named either defensive player of the year or most valuable player for this prior season.

2. He has made one of the three all-NBA teams or has been named the defensive player of the year in two of the prior three seasons or the league’s most valuable player in one of the three prior seasons.

And this crucial stipulation: He has to be either on the team that drafted him, or has to have been traded on his rookie deal to another team.

It seems veteran designated players can earn up to 35% of the cap (now a true 35%) and that this veteran-designated contracts are limited to players with 7-9 years experience. Players with 10+  years experience can already earn 35%. Players with 0-6 years experience have the 5th year 30% max criteria (Derrick Rose rule). So, this is a jump from the standard 30% to 35% for qualified players with 7-9 years experience.

Six players have already met the criteria to be veteran designated players next year:

Additionally, the 2017 Most Valuable Player, Defensive Player of the Year and All-NBA players will join the list if they hold the requisite experience level.

Curry is the only one of the six who will be a free agent next summer, and this could be lucrative for him. His max offer from the Warriors projects to be more than $209 million over five years (nearly $42 million annually). Because teams can only use the veteran-designated-player framework on re-signings and extensions, other teams project to be able to offer Curry “only” about $133 million over four years (about$33 million annually).* Not that anyone suspected Curry would leave the Warriors, but this just makes it even more certain.

*Calculated using another interesting tidbit from Bontemps: Annual raises will go from 7.5%/4.5% to 8%/5%.

Cousins, Leonard and Thompson could receive similar windfalls when they next hit free agency. Presumably, they could even sign renegotiation-and-extensions sooner to lock in the veteran-designated-player salary.

Jordan will have 10 years of experience anyway when he’s next a free agent, but maybe he could also sign a renegotiation-and-extension. Currently, a player must be three years from his last signing before renegotiating or extending a contract. The wait period for extensions is dropping to two years. I’d be surprised if the renegotiation wait period doesn’t also drop to two years. Jordan re-signed with the Clippers last year.

And then there’s Westbrook, who signed a renegotiation-and-extension just last summer. I’d be shocked if he can renegotiate-and-extend so soon. And by the time he becomes a free agent in 2018, he’ll have 10 years of experience anyway. Really, this rule might have Westbrook kicking himself. He got a $8,770,726 raise this season in exchange for locking in at $28,530,608 next season – which made sense at the time. But this rule would’ve allowed Westbrook to earn far more next season than ever expected if he were signing a new contract. How much more? We won’t know until the 2017-18 cap is set. If the cap is more than $106,575,240, he’ll miss out on more next year more than he gained this year. At last check, the cap was projected to be $103 million.

76ers second-rounder Jonah Bolden signs in Israel

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Jonah Bolden – No. 16 on my draft board – slipped all the way to the 76ers at No. 36 in the NBA draft. An impressive summer league has raised his stock significantly.

But Philadelphia won’t reap the rewards this season.

Bolden signed a three-year contract with Maccabi Tel Aviv, the team announced. The club also said the deal contained NBA outs and the 76ers helped facilitate his move from his previous team, Red Star in Serbia.

This is a helpful arrangement for Philadelphia, which is running out of roster spots. Bolden will develop elsewhere while allowing the 76ers’ to maintain his exclusive negotiating rights.

Bolden must get stronger and more adept at handling physicality. The athletic stretch four can also continue developing his burgeoning perimeter skills.

Then, next year, maybe the 76ers will have room to sign him themselves.

Anthony Davis does #DriveByDunkChallenge (video)

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If you’re not up with what the kids are doing, the cool thing this summer is the #DriveByDunkChallenge – driving to random houses, running out of a still-running car, dunking on their basketball hoop, running back into the car then driving off.

It sounds like a lot of fun for those who can dunk (and don’t get accosted by startled homeowners). An example:

Pelicans star Anthony Davis took his turn:

Report: Thunder signing Dakari Johnson two years after drafting him

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Two seasons ago, Dakari Johnson was the youngest player by more than two years on the D-League’s All-Rookie team. Last season, Johnson was the youngest player by more than a year on an All-D-League team – and he made the first of three teams.

Now, Johnson – who the Thunder drafted No. 48 in 2015 and whose rights they continued to hold – is finally moving up to the NBA.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The Thunder have already used the full taxpayer mid-level exception, so presumably Johnson will get the minimum – $2,128,226 over two years. That, plus two years of meager D-League salary, will be Johnson’s return for granting Oklahoma City four years of his services.

He could have forced the Thunder’s hand either of the previous two years by signing the required tender – a one-year contract, surely unguaranteed at the minimum – a team must extend to retain a draft pick’s rights. Accepting the tender would have meant Johnson earning an NBA salary (and gaining a year of service) if Oklahoma City kept him past the preseason. Or, if they waived him, he would’ve been an unrestricted NBA free agent. He still could have developed with the Thunder’s D-League affiliate while available to any NBA team.

Instead, Johnson repeatedly rejected the tender, allowing Oklahoma City to maintain exclusive negotiating rights.

At least the Thunder helped develop him. A strong 7-footer, Johnson has improved his mobility and skill level. He’s still an old-school center in a league moving away from that style, but he’s now more equipped to keep up.

Whether he’s ready enough is another question. Johnson will fall behind Steven Adams and Enes Kanter on the depth chart. At just 21, Johnson is still a decent developmental prospect.

Johnson gives the Thunder 16 players on standard contracts, one more than the regular-season maximum. They could waive Semaj Christon, whose salary is unguaranteed, but I’d be leery of having only Raymond Felton behind Russell Westbrook at point guard. Nick Collison at least provides insurance at center.

So, there’s no guarantee Johnson sticks into the regular season. One thing working in his favor: His salary will be luxury-taxed at the rookie minimum, because the Thunder drafted him. Christon or any other player acquired through free agency would be taxed at the second-year minimum.

No matter how it shakes out, Johnson is at least finally getting significant money in his pocket.

Raptors coach Dwane Casey: DeMar DeRozan to play some point guard

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The Raptors gave away backup point guard Cory Joseph to save money. So, who will play behind Kyle Lowry?

Presumably, Delon Wright and Fred VanVleet will each slide up a spot on the depth chart. The third-year Wright looks ready to join the rotation, and he deserves at least the opportunity.

But Toronto also has another – unexpected – option at point guard: DeMar DeRozan.

Raptors coach Dwane Casey, via Bryan Meler of Sportsnet:

“DeMar DeRozan, have him handle the ball a bit more as a point guard, a facilitator, a passer. Kyle Lowry moving the ball a bit more, spacing up. We don’t want to give our whole ‘what we’re going to try to do next year’ away, but again it comes down to passing the basketball and better spacing more so, than we know, one-on-one play.”

“Everyone and their brother knows we want better ball movement,” said Casey.

DeRozan didn’t play point guard at all last season.* So, this is a pretty big shift.

*Defined as playing without Lowry, Joseph, Wright or VanVleet.

Known as an isolation player, DeRozan has quietly improved as a distributor. I don’t think his ability to run an offense is at a point-guard level, but I’m also not sure that’s the point.

The Raptors are trying to change their style and promote more ball movement. This could help in the long run.

I supported the Timberwolves playing Zach LaVine at point guard as a rookie even though it was clear he should be a shooting guard. Playing point guard was a crash course that helped him develop skills useful at shooting guard, skills he couldn’t have as easily developed while playing off the ball.

The same could be true with DeRozan. Some rocky minutes at point guard could better equip him to play with Lowry in better-passing units come playoff time.

It was more conventional to play a 19-year-old on a bad team out of position to focus on skill development than it is for a 28-year-old on a good team. But he we are.

The Raptors have achieved enough success in the regular season and not enough in the playoffs. Experimenting during the long regular season is a good plan.