New CBA has special provision so James Harden, Russell Westbrook get PAID

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Last summer, the old CBA worked as the owners had hoped in the case of James Harden and Russell Westbrook. Harden signed an extension to stay with the Rockets. After Kevin Durant bolted for the Bay, Westbrook extended his contract with the Thunder.

The new CBA is going to reward superstar players who stick with their teams — Stephen Curry, DeMarcus Cousins, and others who are All-NBA team players with the team that drafted them are in line for five-year, $207 million (or more) extensions. It’s the designated player rule — better named the Kevin Durant rule — that piles on the incentives for those players to stay with their teams (teams can offer 35 percent of the salary cap to those stars, not just 30 percent).

However, in framing the new CBA, both sides wanted to reward the players that inked a deal last summer, so a special provision benefiting Harden and Westbrook is in there, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

The National Basketball Association’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement includes a special provision that grandfathers Houston’s James Harden and Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook into the windfall of super-max contract extensions available to several star players this summer, league sources told The Vertical.

This summer, Westbrook could sign a five-year, $219 million contract extension that would begin in the 2018-19 season. He’ll make $28.5 million in 2017-18.

Harden could sign for an additional four years and $171 million starting in 2019 – on top of the $58.7 million owed to him in the next two years of his current contract.

This is all part of the goal by the owners of small and middle market teams to make it hard for stars they draft to walk away. The incentives in the last CBA came in response to LeBron James leaving Cleveland for Miami. The stakes were upped when Durant made his move this summer, and the new CBA reflects that.

Players can still get out of town. If DeMarcus Cousins wants out of Sacramento, or eventually guys such as Kawhi Leonard or Anthony Davis want to leave their teams, they are free to do so — they are just going to leave tens of millions of dollars on the table. Maybe north of $60 million. For someone like Durant, who has a massive shoe deal with Nike, that contract money may not be enough to keep him in town. But it makes the discussion more interesting.