The Financial Impact of All-NBA Nods

by May 23, 2019
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Kemba Walker of the Charlotte Hornets

Update, 2:35 pm: The league has unveiled the 2018-19 All-NBA teams and as we wrote earlier today, there are some distinct winners and losers.

Kemba Walker, named to the All-NBA Third Team will now be eligible for 35% of the team’s salary cap in a new max deal if he stays with Charlotte. Similarly Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard will be eligible for 35% in the event that they sign designated veteran extensions.

Lillard can sign one that would take effect in 2021-22 this summer while Antetokounmpo would have to wait until 2020.

The biggest omissions include Klay Thompson and Bradley Beal, two guards on the fringe of being named to one of the teams. Had Thompson made the cut he would have been eligible for 35% in the first year of a designated veteran contract. Had Beal made the cut, he could have signed a designated veteran extension effective as of 2021-22.

Another player impacted by his absence on this list is Karl-Anthony Towns who will not be eligible for 30% of the cap in the first year of his rookie scale extension that starts next season.

Original Story: The NBA is set to unveil its 2018-19 All-NBA first, second and third teams today, fortifying the legacy of 15 of the league’s top stars. More than just a fancy new line on each player’s resume, however, such an honor can have a direct impact on an individual’s pocket book.

Being named to an All-NBA team is different than most league accolades due to recently introduced designated veteran contract mechanics which allow qualified individuals to earn as much as 35% of the salary cap in certain situations.

While some players with big pay days looming like Giannis Antetokounmpo are locks to earn a bid on on an All-NBA team, other players outside of the MVP conversation but still instrumental to their teams will wait eagerly for the results.

First of all, a player is eligible to sign a designated veteran contract if they’ve logged at least eight years of NBA service time and either a) earned an All-NBA team in the most recent season or b) earned two of them over the past three seasons.

That means pending free agents Klay Thompson and Kemba Walker – both nine year vets – could raise their potential ceilings in free agency this summer if they’re named to one of the All-NBA teams later today.

If they do, they’ll be eligible to earn 35% of the salary cap in the first year of their new deals, otherwise they’ll be limited to 30%. Based on the current 2019-20 NBA salary cap projections that’s a difference of over $5 million in the first year of their new deals alone.

Additionally, players with at least seven years of service time who meet the same standards will qualify to sign a designated veteran extension starting at the end of their current contract. Damian Lillard, for example, could unlock a hefty pay raise in the likely event that he finds himself on one of the three teams.

In such a scenario, Lillard could extend his current deal that ends in 2020-21 and score well north of $40 million annually through 2024-25.

While the aforementioned Antetokounmpo won’t be eligible to sign such an extension until he has seven years of service time under his belt, simply earning an All-NBA nod this year will put him in position to sign one in 2020 because he was also named to an All-NBA team last year.

Another example of the designated veteran mechanics at work – or in this case specifically not at work – Kevin Durant will hit free agency this summer but will be eligible to sign for 35% regardless of whether he met the criteria or not. That’s because players with ten years of service time are eligible to sign for that amount regardless.

Finally, as Luke Adams of Hoops Rumors documented last fall, Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns could earn himself a substantial increase to his upcoming rookie scale extension just by being named to an All-NBA team.

In the event that Towns does earn a nod, he’ll make 30% of the salary cap in 2019-20 as opposed to 25%. Over the course of the contract, that jump would equal more than $20 million.