LaMarcus Aldridge was reportedly pushing for a trade last summer.
By January of the Trail Blazers’ surprising breakthrough season, he was talking about signing a contract extension.
But with one season and $16,006,000 remaining on his contract, Aldridge probably won’t follow through with that option.
Thus it’s believed that Portland will have to wait until after Aldridge plays out the final season of his contract at just over $16 million and hits free agency
This makes total sense, because the Collective Bargaining Agreement limits how much money Aldridge could make on an extension relative to a new contract a year from now.
Using the NBA’s latest salary-cap projection and a crude projection for 2015-16 that has the cap rising by the same amount as it’s expected to rise from 2013-14 to 2014-15 ($4,521,000), here are the maximum salaries Aldridge could receive from the Trail Blazers.
An extension signed this offseason is black. A new contract next summer is red.
That is a whopping difference.
Aldridge could sign a three-year, $55,490,801 extension this summer.*
As a free agent in 2015, he could sign a five-year,
$127,290,716 $109,106,328 contract.
*In the unlikely event Aldridge signs an extension, he’d surely wait until July 1. Prior, the extension could be for only two years and $35,703,384. There’s no point in rushing the extension by June 30. Even after July 1, he could always still sign a shorter deal.
Of course, waiting a year comes with risk.
Aldridge finished in the top 10 of MVP voting and led the Trail Blazers further into the playoffs than they’ve been in 14 years. His stock has never been higher.
Turning 29 this summer, he could regress a bit and see his value fall. So, an extension this offseason – when he could surely get the maximum possible – would be the safest route.
But, even if Aldridge doesn’t get the max next offseason – and I’d guess he won’t – there’s enough margin for error between those red and black lines to make waiting the best option.
I don’t doubt Aldridge wants to stay in Portland – though, by waiting to re-up, there’s always a chance his loyalties could be swayed – and him not signing an extension doesn’t indicate a desire to leave. It’s purely about maximizing his earnings.