AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – An anonymous NBA executive accused the Pistons and Andre Drummond of circumventing league rules by forgoing a contract extension, a move that could give Detroit an extra $13 million in cap space next summer while still giving Drummond a max contract.
“I don’t remember reading any of those things about Kawhi Leonard last year coming off being the NBA Finals MVP, and they didn’t extend him,” Pistons president/coach Stan Van Gundy said. “…Washington’s doing it with Beal. Look, it’s more common not to do them then do them. So, I don’t know why the criticism.”
Van Gundy is right. The Spurs clearly did this with Leonard, and the Wizards are gaining a similar advantage with Bradley Beal.
The key question: Did the Pistons promise to give Drummond a max deal next summer? That would seemingly violate the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Van Gundy said the league asked about negotiations to ensure everything was on the up and up.
“You can’t have a deal into the future,” Van Gundy said. “So, that’s why what we said was exactly what happened. With Andre’s consent, the decision was made to delay negotiations until next summer. Look, I don’t think it’s that surprising.”
Bottom line: We don’t know what the Spurs promised Leonard or the Pistons promised Drummond. It seems a little silly to give teams such incentive and ability to break a rule, but I’m not sure there’s a way to handle this.
A simple solution would be to have a player’s cap number in the offseason prior to the first season of a contract extension count as what his cap hold would’ve been without an extension. The players would love that, because it would free teams to spend more. But for the same reason, owners would be reluctant.
As is, we have little choice but to trust teams and players without evidence to the contrary. It’s perfectly reasonable that Drummond – without an explicit promise – trusts the Pistons to pay him next summer and wants better teammates.
It’d also be reasonable that he wanted a promise from management before forgoing $120 million guaranteed.
There are plenty of cases that look fishy. This is only one. If you want to question the Pistons and Drummond, question the rest, too.
According to Van Gundy, the NBA already did – and presumably walked away satisfied.