Joel Embiid became the sixth member of the 2014 NBA draft class to sign a lucrative extension to his rookie contract, securing long-term cash for years to come without ever reaching free agency. How did a 23-year-old, and several of his peers, land so much money with just a few measly NBA games to show for themselves?
When can players sign extensions?
NBA teams are eligible to offer contract extensions to young players starting the summer before their four-year rookie deals expire.
Why would teams offer them?
By signing Embiid to a five-year, $146.5 million contract extension on Monday, the 76ers prevented him from hitting restricted free agency after his fourth season. As a restricted free agent, Embiid could have received offers from other teams. Philadelphia would have had the right to match any offer, but the terms of those offer sheets could have been prohibitive.
Most times, incumbent teams will match offers to restricted free agents: See Portland with Allen Crabbe, and Miami with Tyler Johnson. (Hi, Nets!) Sometimes, they won’t: See Atlanta with Tim Hardaway Jr. (Smh, Knicks.)
Regardless, if both the player and the franchise are on the same page, they like to reach extension agreements well before any form of free agency arrives.
Who signed extensions this summer?
Joel Embiid: Five-year, $146.5 million as part of one of the most complex extensions in NBA history. His deal has injury incentives/protections that could pay as little as $89 million or as much as $178 million, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Andrew Wiggins: Five-year, $146.5 million extension with the Timberwolves, who hope he hones his talents and develops into an All-Star.
Norman Powell: Four-years, $42 million deal with Toronto after an impressive sophomore season.
T.J. Warren: Four-year, $50 million with Phoenix
Josh Richardson: Four-year, $42 million with Miami after rebounding from a torn MCL
Who didn’t get an extension?
- Marcus Smart
- Jabari Parker
- Dario Saric
- Zach LaVine
- Jusuf Nurkic
- Rodney Hood
- Aaron Gordon
- Elfrid Payton
- Dante Exum
- Julius Randle
- Kyle Anderson
- Glenn Robinson III
Who came close?
- Marcus Smart and the Celtics resumed talks up until the deadline, but things ultimately fell through after the sides came “relatively close” to a deal according to a report from ESPN.
- Jabari Parker was seeking a max extension from the Bucks and kept talks going up until the deadline, but the two sides failed to reach an agreement leaving Parker open to restricted free agency, per ESPN.
What happens now?
Those who failed to reach agreements will hit restricted free agency. Their teams will retain the first right to refusal on any deal they may sign with another in free agency next season, but it’s a dangerous game to play.
Losing teams with cap space traditionally throw most of their money at restricted free agents in hopes of driving up offer sheets and snatching young talent from opposing team’s hands. That will almost certainly be the case next summer with names like Smart, Parker, Saric and LaVine on the board.
Veteran extension tracker
Russell Westbrook: five-year, $205 million extension. Westbrook signed the most lucrative contract in the league’s history after shattering triple double records left and right. It’s well deserved.
James Harden: four-year, $170 million extension. Harden had one of the most impressive offensive seasons league history last season. Despite flaming out in the playoffs, he earned every penny of this extension.
John Wall: four-year, $170 million extension. Wall had a career year, leading the Wizards in scoring while averaging 10.7 assists per game last season.
Lamarcus Aldridge: three-year, $72 million extension