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.