‘Kevin Love rule’ could help Timberwolves extend Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins under new CBA

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As the story goes, David Kahn was saving his five-year, designated-player rookie-scale extension (not to be confused with the new veteran designated-player rule) for Ricky Rubio. So, the Timberwolves general manager gave Kevin Love a shorter extension and embittered Love in the process. That led to Love requesting a trade and being sent to the Cavaliers.

Under the next Collective Bargaining Agreement, teams will no longer face that dilemma (not that Love-Rubio should’ve presented a dilemma).

Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post:

Teams can now give two players coming off their rookie contracts a five-year max extension. Previously, teams could only sign one of their players to such an extension.

This was always an overblown concern. It’s rare teams will have multiple players worthy of max contract extensions in such a short span. The flaw in the Love parable is that Rubio’s extension wound up far short of the max.

And even when teams stack first-rounders worthy of the max, there was a clear remedy. Designated-player applies only to extensions. Though teams could offer only one five-year rookie-scale extension, they could extend one player and then re-sign the other in restricted free agency to the exact same contract he would’ve gotten in an extension. It makes no difference in player compensation. In fact, that route can even help teams when a player’s cap hold is lower than his salary.*

*That’ll happen less often under the new CBA. As Bontemps reports, cap holds for players coming off rookie-scale deals were will increase from 200% (if above NBA-average salary) or 250% (if below NBA-average salary) of previous salary to 250% (if above NBA-average salary) or 300% (if below NBA-average salary) of previous salary.

The Wizards followed this route, making John Wall their designated player then re-signing Bradley Beal to a five-year max contract.

This new rule will help teams prevent players from reaching restricted free agency, where hijinks – accepting the qualifying offer, signing a short offer offer sheet – can happen. (On the other hand, a maximum qualifying offer – logical for a player a team was ready max-extend – already eliminates the one-year-qualifying-offer threat and makes those unpleasant offer sheets less likely.)

Coincidentally, Minnesota – with Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins – could benefit from this change. Other candidates to benefit include the 76ers (Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons) and Pacers (Paul George* and Myles Turner).

*already a designated player