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.

Watch Donovan Mitchell drop 43, upstage LeBron return as Cavs top Lakers

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CLEVELAND (AP) — As a kid growing up in New York, Donovan Mitchell idolized LeBron James. On Tuesday night, he upstaged him.

Mitchell scored a season-high 43 points and Jarrett Allen returned from injury to add 24, leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 116-102 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in James’ only visit home this season.

With Anthony Davis missing the final three quarters because of illness, the Cavs improved to an NBA-leading 11-1 on their floor, their best start at home since 2015-16, when James led them to a championship.

Mitchell, who has Cleveland fans dreaming of another title run, took over in the second half and scored 29 points with the kind of performance James had routinely during his 11 seasons for the Cavs.

“You always want to spoil the homecoming,” Mitchell said with a smile.

With Cleveland leading by 12 in the fourth, Mitchell buried a 3-pointer from the left wing to finish the Lakers. After dropping the shot, the All-Star guard strutted around the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse floor nodding his head as James helplessly watched.

“He’s Mitchell,” James said. “He’s a special kid.”

Darius Garland added 21 points and 11 assists for Cleveland.

James finished with 21 points and 17 rebounds, losing for just the third time in 20 games against the Cavs.

Dennis Schroder and Russell Westbrook added 16 points apiece as Los Angeles had its four-game winning streak stopped.

Davis went out after eight minutes with flu-like symptoms. The eight-time All-Star had scored 99 points in his previous two games and had been playing as well as he has in several seasons after being plagued by injuries.

Davis didn’t attempt a field goal and scored just one point before leaving.

“It got progressively worse as the day went on,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said. “His temperature was 101 and some change. A-D wanted to try to play, but he felt too weak. He’s drained and dehydrated.

“That’s a huge loss, obviously, with the way he’s been playing lately.”

Without Davis clogging the middle, Allen, who missed the last five games with a bruised back, made his first 10 shots and helped the Cavs take a 57-49 halftime lead.

“Next man up,” James said when asked how he reacted to losing Davis. “That’s a tall task – literally and figuratively.”

The Cavs welcomed James back with a video tribute during an early timeout. After a montage of clips, including some from 2016, James waved to the crowd and then blew kisses to show his appreciation.

The warm scene was in contrast to what happened almost exactly 12 years ago, when he came back with the Miami Heat and was met with boos and worse on a night James has said he’ll never forget.

James said he was caught off guard by the tribute.

“It’s always love coming back here,” he said. “The memories I have here will never be forgotten.”

 

Ben Simmons targeting Friday vs. Hawks to return from calf strain

Toronto Raptors v Brooklyn Nets
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Ben Simmons has missed the Nets’ last three games with knee pain tied to a left calf strain, and he will be out Wednesday, too, when Brooklyn takes on Charlotte.

However, he plans to return on Friday (Dec. 9) against the Hawks.

Simmons was adjusting to a new role in Brooklyn. In Philadelphia he was a point-forward with the ball in his hands playing off Joel Embiid (at least at first), but in Brooklyn the ball needed to be in the hands of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in the halfcourt. Simmons is playing more small-ball five, and is asked to be aggressive and attack when he gets the ball — not shoot jumpers — and to push the rock in transition. It took a while for Simmons to settle into that space, but he seemed to in games against Philadelphia (11 points, 11 assists), Toronto (14 points, six assists) and Indiana (20 points). Then the injuries hit.

Brooklyn sits at 13-12, with a middle-of-the-pack offense and defense for the season. While there are doubts about the ceiling for this team, it has a talent level that should be better than this record, it’s just been beset by injuries, controversy causing Kyrie Irving to miss time, and a coaching change. The Nets have yet to hit their stride.

But they could have a clean injury report on Friday night, and maybe that can be the start of this team getting on a run.

Suns, Hawks reportedly show interest in Kuzma trade, Wizards see him as cornerstone

Washington Wizards v Brooklyn Nets
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Kyle Kuzma was the kind of quality, two-way role player the Lakers needed around LeBron James and Anthony Davis to win the 2020 NBA title (the type of player the Lakers wish they had now).

In Washington, his role has been elevated — he’s a 20-point-a-game scorer (20.6 points per game this season, to be precise) who is a key part of generating offense, not just playing off the stars of Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis. As he told Shams Charania of The Athletic:

“As soon as I got traded, I was ready to be more,” Kuzma told The Athletic.

It’s been enough to draw the interest of a couple of teams looking for a trade, Charania adds. The Wizards are not necessarily interested in moving on, however.

Several teams, such as the Atlanta Hawks and Phoenix Suns, have expressed trade interest in Kuzma, according to league sources. By the same token, the Wizards have shown interest in Hawks forward John Collins, and the sides seriously discussed a potential deal last offseason, league sources added…

However, the Wizards’ front office, led by general manager Tommy Sheppard, has made clear that it views Kuzma as a cornerstone moving forward as the franchise has seen him thrive since the mega-trade in the 2021 offseason. The Westbrook trade provided future flexibility and assets for the Wizards, who have been known to be aggressive and active in research across the league.

Kuzma has a $13 million player option for next season that he will unquestionably opt out of, making him a free agent in search of a healthy raise (north of $20 million a year, although expect something more in the ballpark of the four-year, $104 million Jalen Brunson contract). If the Wizards are willing to pay they likely can keep him (they have his Bird rights). But if Washington isn’t sure it wants to pay market value, or if management sees a shifting path for future seasons, it should consider trading Kuzma at the deadline.

If he becomes available, far more teams than the Hawks and Suns would be interested, quality two-way forwards are in demand around the league. Kuzma would have some leverage over where he gets sent because he can leave as a free agent (teams would offer up less if they believed Kuzma would only be a rental for this season).

Magic send Jonathan Isaac to G-League for practice, rehabilitation

2022-2023 Orlando Magic Media Day
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There was a time when it was thought Jonathan Isaac might be the Magic’s next big star.

However, he has not stepped on an NBA court since he was in the bubble (Feb. 8, 2020), then he tore his ACL in August of that year (which came on the heels of missing much of that season with an injury to the same knee). Last March he had a setback and another procedure, and at this point he has missed two full seasons plus the start of this one.

Isaac is still working toward recovery and the Magic have assigned him to the Lakeland Magic of the G-League to get in some practice.

Because NBA teams barely practice during the season — the schedule of games nearly every other day plus travel and recovery doesn’t permit more than film sessions and walk-throughs — these kinds of baseball-style minor league rehab assignments are more and more common.

The story from the Magic’s official website notes this will be the first time Isaac will play 5-on-5 with other players during his rehab, which is a significant step forward.

There is no timeline for his return, but the Magic have him under contract this season for $17.4 million and two more fully guaranteed years at the same price. There is no reason for the franchise to walk away, even if some around the league question if his knees will ever let him back on an NBA court again.

The Magic have found their next star in Paolo Banchero and have built a promising young core, something Isaac — an elite defender before his injuries — should fit in well with. If he can get healthy and back on the court.