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NBA to pay a portion of Kevin Durant’s max contract

Jul 19, 2013, 8:00 AM EDT

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NBA teams were operating under uncertainty entering the 2010-11 season. The Collective Bargaining Agreement was scheduled to expire the next summer, and there was no telling what terms the new deal would include.

Teams might have to drastically shed salary to get under a hard cap. Trade exceptions could expire during a lockout. Existing contracts could change.

Besides the usual risks that come with transactions, there were plenty of ways teams’ decisions could backfire simply via the upcoming negotiating process between the owners and players.

But it seemed the Thunder signing Kevin Durant to a five-year, maximum contract extension in 2010 couldn’t go wrong. In his third year, Durant had just made the All-NBA first team, and his future seemed bright. Durant capitalized on that momentum, making another All-NBA first team in 2010-11 as the NBA headed into the lockout.

Durant’s extension didn’t call for a set dollar amount. Rather, it just specified he’d make a maximum salary. That max salary for players like Durant changed dramatically from the previous CBA to current edition thanks to what’s often called the Derrick Rose Rule. Durant, because he had made two All-NBA teams, was eligible for a larger extension than other players coming off their rookie-scale deal.

Suddenly, the Thunder were on the hook for $89,163,134 rather than $74,302,616 for the next five years based on the new rule structure, but still using the current Basketball Related Income split between players owners. The difference: $14,860,519.

No doubt, that contributed to Oklahoma City’s decision trade James Harden and let Kevin Martin leave this summer.

Too late to change those outcomes, the Thunder had their protest answered by the NBA.

Zach Lowe of Grantland:

Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman:

This sets a dangerous precedent, and frankly, I’m surprised the owners approved it. The Thunder certainly weren’t the only team who made a decision the new CBA adversely affected. When do teams that paid a steeper luxury tax as specified by the new CBA get their handout?

Durant – whose take-home salary won’t be affected by this vote – will also be eligible to make more on his next contract because of this rule. Can Oklahoma City ask for money from the rest of the league then, too?

By not altering the Thunder’s team salary – i.e., not changing their luxury-tax bill – and not reimbursing the full $14,860,519, the other owners didn’t take as large as step as they could have. But they still took a huge leap. Probably too large of one.

  1. 13arod - Jul 19, 2013 at 8:11 AM

    Can u do that will lebron too

    • dezglobal - Jul 19, 2013 at 8:40 AM

      LeBron has yet to sign a max deal.

      • dannymac17 - Jul 19, 2013 at 6:17 PM

        but when he does you can imagine it will shatter all other max contracts based on the new language. paul got 107 (or 105 cant remember) but if u think a team wont pay that and then some is crazy.

  2. simonwelds - Jul 19, 2013 at 8:30 AM

    Actually the Nets are paying

  3. Anoesis - Jul 19, 2013 at 9:37 AM

    Wow, can’t wait to see what massive millions the Knicks and Lakers are going to get. Oh, wait, Stern is still in charge, right? Never mind.

  4. atlbrave5 - Jul 19, 2013 at 10:05 AM

    If you really think about it, the NBA owners are pretty smart guys after all. They all voted on this so that they could potentially receive the same exact money benefit later on down the road before their tax bills are due to the league! The NBA is not paying KD’s salary, the NBA is just allowing the OKC Thunder some tax relief for taking care of their superstar. If you were an owner of a team why would you not want that same benefit one day for your own team?

  5. ProBasketballPundit - Jul 19, 2013 at 10:26 AM

    This frugality is starting to get ugly for the Thunder. First, they trade away a blue-chipper over $8 million (instead of amnestying Perkins which they wouldn’t do because they’re too cheap to pay a player who isn’t playing), now they announce they don’t want to pay their super superstar an amount of money which they agreed to in principle? Seems like a bad move… just suck it up and pay the man who fills the seats.

  6. htownred34 - Jul 19, 2013 at 10:28 AM

    Lebron doesn’t have a max deal, remember all three of those Miami players took less to play together… It’s crazy, but Lebron gets paid the same amount Bosh does…

    • jonevans511 - Jul 19, 2013 at 11:09 AM

      It’s not that crazy. Lebron essentially could give away his NBA salary and still be more than loaded with his endorsement deals. Not to mention dude is apparently “smart” (smart being a relative term for highly paid individuals vs rest of society) with his money, so when he was deciding where to play, I doubt a potential max contract factored in much. This is not to imply Lebron should or would play the game he loves for free, I’m just saying he’s not losing ANY sleep over the fact he’s getting pay checks equal to Bosh. He’s also wiping his ass with money he’s making off his sneaker deal (among other endorsements).

      • angulocarlos1 - Jul 19, 2013 at 4:33 PM

        Makes you realize how greedy Kobe is when he told a reporter he would not take a hometown discount to stay with the lakers

    • miamatt - Jul 19, 2013 at 11:47 AM

      If I’m not mistaken, Bosh makes more than James, while Wade took less than both.

    • ProBasketballPundit - Jul 19, 2013 at 5:52 PM

      It really is crazy that Bosh makes as much as LeBron. Didn’t seem that crazy at the time but now I wanna know… who were these supposed teams lining up to give Bosh a max contract? He’s a good player but not a max guy… and I believe the only teams actually willing to max him out were willing to do so contingent upon Wade or James being with him.

      • turdburgalarsepticservices - Nov 21, 2013 at 11:58 PM

        Bosh would be back to who he was in Toronto if he had a true point guard. Kinda hard to get the ball in the post or get separation without the ball when you have wade and james running the offense. Every great PF needs a point guard

  7. florida727 - Jul 19, 2013 at 10:40 AM

    Read this article closely and you’ll understand exactly what’s wrong with professional sports. What I don’t understand is why Microsoft isn’t picking up part of the salary for Apple’s or IBM’s CEO or one of their Vice Presidents?

    • asimonetti88 - Jul 19, 2013 at 11:02 AM

      Although their teams compete on the floor, in the business arena, the owners are partners.

    • miamatt - Jul 19, 2013 at 11:49 AM

      Last I checked Microsoft, Apple, and IBM weren’t part of the National Technologist Association….

    • turdburgalarsepticservices - Nov 22, 2013 at 12:00 AM

      Someone doesn’t understand the NBA is a collection of owners, MS, Apple, and IBM don’t share revenue.

  8. jimbo062981 - Jul 19, 2013 at 11:00 AM

    This was agreed upon after the owners were told the Nets tax bill I’m sure.

  9. jessejames182 - Jul 19, 2013 at 12:25 PM

    It would be a dangerous precedent if the league was fair and equal.

  10. 13arod - Jul 19, 2013 at 1:24 PM

    I know that

  11. sylpkt - Jul 19, 2013 at 1:37 PM

    The new CBA really increased the difference between the big/small markets, not narrowed it. Under the old CBA, Harden would still be in OKC, Gay would (probably) still be in Memphis, Granger would probably get to stay in Indiana past this year (assuming he’s healthy this year, and they max George). While the bigger market Lakers, Clippers, Nets, Knicks, & Bulls laugh at the tax increase because they have large TV deals that smaller teams cannot get.

    $3m/y is also the difference in the contract the Thunder offered Harden to stay last year when he insisted he wanted and deserved (rightfully so) the max. Had Durant’s contract not increased by $3m/y the instant the new CBA went into effect, Harden would at least have signed a max deal w/ the Thunder last year. Westbrook, Harden or Ibaka would have had to go this year anyway, but they also had (have) the option of amnestying Perkins.

  12. asuthyo - Jul 19, 2013 at 4:11 PM

    I don’t have a problem with this but it does seem wrong to only help the Thunder when this deal hurt multiple teams. As an example the Miami Heat.

    Should they be allowed to get Miller back because if it wasn’t for the new CBA the luxury tax penalties wouldn’t be so high and they could have kept him?

    This is just one example but it seems unfair to help one team and not others even if it was those teams owners that decided to vote for it.

    • c2poke88 - Jul 19, 2013 at 6:49 PM

      Great point. The Miami Heat owner (Micky Arison) voted against the new CBA. But he’s still having to struggle through the severe acquisition limitations and luxury tax penalties imposed on him when the 3 biggest contracts on his team were signed under the previous CBA when the penalties weren’t nearly as severe. The Heat just had to amnesty Mike Miller whose contract was also signed under the previous CBA. If the NBA is going to give the Thunder some financial relief, relief should also go to every other NBA team suffering financial losses under the current CBA for contracts signed under the previous CBA.

  13. savvybynature - Jul 19, 2013 at 8:34 PM

    I don’t get it. I mean, OKC is still satisfied with the contract right? Even if it’s more than they thought it would be, so what?
    I guarantee that if OKC knew then what they know now, they would still offer Durant the “super-max” contract without hesitation, so why do they need a bailout from everyone else? Am I missing something?

  14. jimeejohnson - Jul 19, 2013 at 10:21 PM

    Kevin Durant’s 24 years old and making almost 15 MILLION DOLLARS (say like Dr. Evil)! I say more power to the young man. That kind of dinero must go a very, very long way in Oklahoma.

    • jimeejohnson - Jul 19, 2013 at 10:22 PM

      Fancy dinners and nightclubs in Bricktown non withstanding.

  15. cornbreadbbqred - Jul 20, 2013 at 6:37 AM

    The league is fair and balanced like Fox News. Yeah right? I just need to point out the Chris Paul to Lakers trade that never happened. David Stern and the league should be on the hook for damages in a conflict of interest law suit! How much damage did that do the Lakers fortune. Why Buss the younger doesn’t pull the trigger on that one, I will never know.

  16. omniusprime - Jul 21, 2013 at 9:00 AM

    As always that scumbag Stern makes sure to meddle in things he shouldn’t, thus ruining the game even more than he already has in his sorry tenure of misleading the NBA. If Oklahoma City made a stupid deal then they are the ones who have to pay for it, just like the Lakers or any other big market team. The NBA has no business propping up winning teams financially and if the dumb Okies in OKC can’t afford an NBA basketball team then maybe that team ought to return to Seattle where it belongs.

    Terminate Stern!!!

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