The NBA’s shortened offseason has seemingly been about the inevitable departure of superstars from the teams that drafted them. Chris Paul was already traded from the Hornets to the Lakers Clippers and a Dwight Howard trade seems inevitably on the block and out of Orlando for greener pastures.
Much like last summer when Kevin Durant inked an extension with the small-market Thunder while the three biggest free agents in their prime took their talents to South Beach, one of the biggest long-term moves was made by someone deciding to stay. Derrick Rose signed a maximum extension with the Bulls that will keep him in the Windy City until 2018.
The league’s reigning MVP is obviously a max salary guy. There is no disputing the numbers that will appear on his checks beginning with the 2013-14 season. they will be for the most money Rose can make.
This is Rose’s first big contract. He was making the relatively minuscule rookie salary for a No. 1 overall pick: $31.6 million over six years (including his option year that was set for next season). Rose likely will be making that much in two years under his new contract.
We have seen this play out before with the other young All Star players.
LeBron James signed a four-year extension (with that fateful player option on the fourth year) to stay in Cleveland after his rookie contract expired in 2007. His salary, according to Basketball-Reference bumped up from $5.8 million to $13 million. Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh did the same, extending their rookie contracts to signing similar three-year extensions that kicked in at the conclusion of the 2007 season.
Chris Paul did the same following the 2009 season, signing a four-year extension that expires in 2013. Dwight Howard did too, his five-year extension would expire in 2013 if he were not planning to exercise his early termination option in 2012.
Kevin Durant, who so quietly signed that extension last summer is in the same boat as Rose and the rest of the young stars that previously signed extensions with the teams that drafted them. It is not uncommon even from the players who now seemingly so desperately want out from the teams that drafted them to sign that first extension and get that new payday.
Derrick Rose‘s extension is different in one critical way, however. He and Durant both received full five-year guarantees without early termination options.
It shows a commitment to the franchises and teams that drafted them. It certainly helps that the Bulls and Thunder both have teams with bright futures. Both made the Conference Finals last season. And it certainly helps that both players feel at home in their cities — Derrick Rose is from Chicago and Kevin Durant has embraced the sort of sheltered and slow lifestyle in Oklahoma City with his teammates.
Both Rose and Durant were given the options to put early termination options in their contracts, but both declined. They wanted to show the same full commitment to the franchise that the franchise was showing them.
The latest batch of superstars have used that early termination clause as a weapon to increase their leverage and get out of situations they dislike sooner than their contract expires, as Brian Windhorst of TrueHoop notes:
“The shorter contracts and options to terminate the contract early applied tremendous pressure to that group of stars’ various teams and provided the players with maximum leverage. This, of course, was the point. The stars wanted as much control as possible.
“This came on the heels of an era where contracts were permitted to be signed up to seven years or longer and, as a result led to players feeling trapped in bad situations. Kevin Garnett‘s deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves is a prime example. That is why Garnett, the night James played his last game with the Cavs, warned James that loyalty wasn’t always the smartest thing for a star.”
Now, it seems the pendulum might be swinging the other way. With the collective bargaining agreement limiting Bird-Rights contracts to five or six years, it seems players might be more willing to commit to their teams for a full five years without that option. Rose and Durant might be the trendsetters in this new way for superstars to sign extensions and hit free agency.
Of course, Rose and Durant are very different from other stars. They are not as boisterous and are much quieter in their public personas. Durant seemingly is just a guy who wants to play basketball and win. Rose seems to be perfectly comfortable playing in his hometown of Chicago and shine under the United Center lights.
Durant’s agent, Aaron Goodwin, told Windhorst that it is yet to be seen whether Durant and Rose will start a trend. We may not really know that until Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook make their decisions about whether or not to extend at the conclusion of their rookie contracts.