Accounting for Klay Thompson choosing a contract extension over new-TV-deal money


As the age-old saying goes, $89,138,886 in the hand is better than $121,667,219 in the bush.

The Warriors and Klay Thompson are negotiating a contract extension, and the shooting guard said he’d prefer to reach a deal now rather than waiting to sign a new deal under a higher salary cap created by the new national TV contracts.

Is Thompson right to push for an extension now?

He’ll make $3,075,880 this season, the final year of his rookie contact. It’s his salaries for future seasons that are in flux.

An extension would begin in 2015-16, and if he doesn’t sign one, he’d become a restricted free agent next summer. However – unless the NBA enacts more-drastic cap smoothing – the salary cap won’t rise drastically until the 2016-17 season, the first of the new TV deals. That means Thompson, if he dares to wait for a long-term contract until the cap skyrockets, is basically committing to two more seasons – including this one – of a low salary.

Let’s start with the simple solution: Thompson signs an extension before the Oct. 31 deadline. A max extension, based on the NBA’s projected 2015-16 salary cap, would pay $89,138,886 over five years.

I don’t know whether Thompson can command the max, but the Warriors kept him rather than trading for Kevin Love. Thompson should at least ask – and considering how much more he could earn by delaying a long-term deal, they might say yes.

If Thompson doesn’t accept an extension, he could always re-sign next summer for up to the same amount a max extension would pay. If Thompson plans to do that, he might as well just push for the extension now.

But becoming a free agent next summer could bring more-lucrative opportunities.

In order to make Thompson a restricted free agent, Golden State would have to extend him a qualifying offer, a standing one-year contract offer. Thompson’s qualifying offer is slated to to be $4,210,880. But if he starts one game or plays 1,132 minutes – both of which would be, by far, career lows – he’ll meet the starter criteria and would be eligible for a larger qualifying offer of $4,433,683. Obviously, I project he’ll do that.

The Warriors play the Kings on Oct. 29, so Thompson could start that game and know he’d know he’s met the starter criteria before the extension deadline of Oct. 31. I doubt that would mean much to him, but it ever-so-slightly minimizes his risk.

As for the upside? That would come in 2016 after his year on the qualifying offer. With the cap projected to rise as the new TV deals kick in, many teams will have cap room, and salaries will soar.

Here’s the max amount Thompson could earn – using my cap projection for 2016-17 – by:

  • Signing an extension (black)
  • Signing a qualifying offer in 2015 and then signing elsewhere in 2016 (blue)
  • Signing a qualifying offer in 2015 and then re-signing in 2016 (yellow)


Year Extension Qualifying offer
and sign elsewhere
Qualifying offer and re-sign
2015-16 $15,502,415 $4,433,683 $4,433,683
2016-17 $16,665,096 $20,388,441 $20,388,441
2017-18 $17,827,777 $21,295,332 $21,917,574
2018-19 $18,990,458 $22,202,224 $23,446,707
2019-20 $20,153,139 $23,109,115 $24,975,840
2020-21 $26,504,973
Total $89,138,886 $91,428,795 $121,667,219

If Thompson can get a max offer in 2016, he should reject an extension and sign the qualifying offer to become a free agent then. He doesn’t even need a max deal from the Warriors – who can provide a fifth season and larger annual raises (7.5 percent vs. 4.5 percent) than other teams – to come out ahead. If Thompson leverages any teams into a max offer, he fares better than he would have on a max extension now.

Of course, nobody knows whether Thompson can get a max contract in 2016.

Only Thompson can decide for himself which course is best. An extension is the only way to secure huge money now, but waiting could bring a bigger payout.

This probably won’t affect his decision, but the higher Thompson’s salary in the final year of his deal, the higher his max salary could be in his following contract. That’s because free agents can always sign for 105 percent of their previous salary. So, holding off on a long-term deal could mean Thompson is eligible for even more money on his second long-term deal.

Is Thompson a star worthy of a max contract, let alone a megastar worthy of two in his career?

It’s rare a player turns down his first big guaranteed payday in order to chase a bigger deal later, but a national TV deal of this size is unprecedented. The game has changed, and as a result, even a max contract extension is no longer guaranteed to be the optimal financial path.

I understand Thompson’s inclination to take the money now, but if he does that, he should make sure the Warriors give him all of it. Max extension or bust.

Arizona State leading scoring Remy Martin declares for 2020 NBA Draft

(Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Leave a comment

Arizona State junior Remy Martin has declared for the 2020 NBA Draft:

The six-foot point guard took on more of scoring role in his third season with the Sun Devils than he had in his first two seasons. Martin averaged 19.1 points per game on 43.2% shooting from the field. Martin also dished out 4.1 assists per game, after averaging 5.0 assists as a sophomore.

Arizona State’s leading scoring may just be testing the waters, as he’s expected to go undrafted. NBA scouts have concerns over Martin’s size at the NBA level. One concern is his ability to hold up defensively, as NBA point guards are trending bigger and bigger in recent years.

As a smaller guard, Martin was one of the players who could have benefited from the traditional pre-draft process. With in-person workouts on hold, and potentially cancelled entirely, players have limited opportunities to improve their draft stock. Teams may be drafting off previous in-person scouting and off of tape.

NBA players reportedly to take part in televised NBA 2K tournament Friday

Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for NBA 2K
Leave a comment

If we can’t watch NBA players on the court, at least we can watch them control their digital selves and teammates in a live basketball tournament.

ESPN plans to broadcast an NBA 2K tournament with only NBA players at the controllers, a story broken by Chris Haynes at Yahoo Sports. The hope is to have it air Friday, with the players competing from their homes around the country.

The NBA is planning a players-only NBA 2K tournament that will feature the league’s sharpest video gamers and it will be broadcast on ESPN, league sources told Yahoo Sports…

Players competing against their peers in the comfort of their own homes could offer a distraction for fans who are missing the game and a little competition.

Esports are incredibly popular and growing as a spectator sport, both in person and on Twitch and other platforms. With there being a pent-up demand for sports programming, this seems a smart attempt to draw eyeballs. Even people who are non-esports viewers could tune in just to check it out, because it’s that or rewatching Tiger King.

You can bet that if it works, we will see a lot more of it in the future.

(Inside baseball note: I would love to see the emails/texts flying around ESPN about Yahoo breaking a story about what is coming in their network.)


Shaquille O’Neal: I had no idea what was happening with Joe Exotic of Tiger King

(Diane Bondareff/AP Images for Papa John's International, Inc.)
Leave a comment

On a recent episode of “The Big Podcast with Shaq” former NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal said that “he had no idea” what was happening at the zoo run by Joe Exotic. Joe Exotic was recently made famous through the popular Netflix documentary “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness”.

Footage of O’Neal appeared in the first episode of the show and was shown taking photographs with the animals.

The documentary also showed a cut of O’Neal on TNT saying “Shoutout to Exotic Joe. I got two more tigers.”

On his podcast, O’Neal explained:

“So we go in there, and it’s a beautiful place, and the character that was there was Exotic Joe. We’re there and I dropped some donations for the tigers’ foods and all that. We take pictures with (the) tigers. We went back a couple times. Then we go back another time and we found out that he’s involved with all the stuff, and then, actually, I stopped going.”

Joseph Maldonado-Passage, also known as Joe Exotic, was sentenced to 22 years in prison after being found guilty of 19 different charges. Those charges included murder-for-hire plot, illegally selling endangered species and other animal-related offenses.

O’Neal clarified that he never bought any animals, but often donates to charities that help animals. He also made it clear that he’s not friends with Joe Exotic, nor anyone involved in the trade of endangered species.

“I don’t harm tigers,” O’Neal said. “I love tigers. I love white tigers. Do I put donations to these zoos to help these tigers out? I do it all the time. Do I own tigers personally at my house? No. But I love tigers. Listen, people are going to make their own opinions, but, again, I was just a visitor. I met this guy — not my friend. Don’t know him. Never had any business dealings with him, and I had no idea any of that stuff was going on.”

Report: Brooklyn Nets looking to hire a blue-chip head coach

(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Leave a comment

When the Brooklyn Nets and Kenny Atkinson parted ways in early-March, the team installed Jacque Vaughn as the interim head coach.

According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst that’s a short-term appointment. On his podcast “Brian Windhorst and The Hoop Collective”, the reporter said the Nets are looking to hire a coach with a track record of NBA success.

“One of the things that has been expressed sort of the grapevine, that’s the way I’m going to say it to protect myself from the aggregators, is that Durant and Irving would like a blue-chip coach. I don’t know what this says about the way they thought about Atkinson, but they want a big-name coach.”

Names linked to the Brooklyn opening are Tom Thibodeau, Mark Jackson, and both Jeff and Stan Van Gundy.

Atkinson leaving Brooklyn was a surprise, considering he had led the Nets back to the playoffs in 2019. That success came after a three-year rebuild. That process was kicked off when general manager Sean Marks hired Atkinson to lead the on-court development. Under Marks and Atkinson, the Nets developed several players who had been given up on by other teams.

Brooklyn was 28-34 when Atkinson was let go. The Nets had gone 2-0 under Vaughn before the NBA suspended play in mid-March.