Devin Booker (left) and Donovan Mitchell can massively improve their earnings outlooks if they earn All-NBA nods this season. (Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
PLAYER CONTRACTS

The NBA Stars With Millions in Salary at Stake This Week

NBA supermax hopefuls like Devin Booker, Zach LaVine, and KAT need to finish out the regular season with a bang if they want to guarantee a record-setting bag.

With mere days left in the NBA regular season, there’s a lot that still needs to be decided.

We’ve got play-in and playoff spots and seeding up for grabs. A tight MVP race between Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo is racing to the finish. But not to be underrated are the 15 spots on All-NBA teams, several of which will determine whether an elite group of players either makes or misses out on tens of millions of dollars in future earnings.

While the annual voting doesn’t necessarily reflect the 15 best players each season due to positional restrictions and other constraints, receiving All-NBA honors comes with massive monetary implications — particularly, it’s a key cornerstone for qualifying for two prestigious contracts:

  • The rookie max extension, also known as the “Derrick Rose Rule”
  • The designated veteran player extension, more commonly known as the “supermax
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Last June, Boardroom spoke with two All-NBA voters who laid out how flawed and problematic the process is in personally and publicly affecting the salaries and livelihood of the players they cover to the tune of eight figures per player. Because All-Stars Jayson Tatum (Celtics) and Donovan Mitchell (Jazz) missed out on All-NBA last season, the extensions they ultimately signed were capped at $163 million over five years instead of a $196 million “Rose Rule” contract — up to 30% of the NBA salary cap each year — the absolute max dollar value they could have earned based on their current level of service time.

To be eligible for a “true” NBA supermax salary under the designated veteran player extension rule — defined as 35% of the salary cap annually — a player has to (1) have completed no fewer than seven and no more than eight seasons and (2) still play for the team that either drafted him or traded for his rookie contract. He also must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Win NBA MVP in one of the previous three seasons
  • Win Defensive Player of the Year in the previous season OR two of the last three
  • Make an All-NBA team in the previous season OR two of the last three

One player vitually guaranteed to sign a 35% supermax deal this offseason is Jokic, who is already eligible having won last year’s MVP and is currently in his seventh NBA season. Elsewhere, let’s look at six other players who still have more to accomplish in order to earn themselves tens of millions in additional salary:

Celtics SF Jayson Tatum & Jazz SG Donovan Mitchell
(Again!)

While the pair’s $28.1 million salaries for this season, the first of their identical rookie extensions, are already locked in, they can each get one big step closer to much bigger pay bumps with an All-NBA nod this season. Both are again strong candidates for such consideration, with Tatum getting some Second Team love for the way he’s led the resurgent Celtics in the second half of the season.

Tatum is averaging career highs in points (27), rebounds (8) and assists (4.4) per game, PER (21.8), win shares (9.4 via Basketball-Reference) and win shares per 48 minutes (.169; the league average is .1) while leading the league with 4.4 defensive win shares. While the Jazz are fading in the West standings down the stretch, Mitchell is posting career highs in assists per game (5.4), shooting percentage (45.4%), true shooting percentage (57.9) and win shares (7.1).

Both players are in their fifth NBA seasons. They have between now and the end of the 2024-25 campaign to meet the supermax criteria, but could be eligible as soon as the 2024 offseason.

Suns SG Devin Booker

The 25-year-old is coincidentally going to complete his seventh NBA season this year for the league-best Suns, meaning he can sign a supermax extension to supersede the five-year, $158 million deal he signed after the 2017-18 season.

Booker is averaging career highs in points (26.6) and rebounds (5) per game, PER (21.2) and win shares per 48 minutes (.154). Based on Phoenix’s play and how the team remained dominant despite the long-term absence of backcourt teammate Chris Paul, Book should be safe to make an All-NBA squad and set himself up for a very, very large payday.

If something unconscionable occurred and Book was somehow left off All-NBA this year, he could still attain supermax eligibility by achieving the honor next year in his eighth NBA season.

Hawks PG Trae Young

Last summer, the All-Star sharpshooter signed a five-year extension with the Hawks worth $172 million after leading the team on a surprise run to the Eastern Conference finals. The extension kicks in at the beginning of the 2022-23 season — and it can escalate to a $207 million “Rose Rule” deal if he makes All-NBA this year.

Atlanta has had its struggles this season, and they’ll have to win at least one play-in game to reach the playoff bracket. But the 23-year-old Young averaging career highs in points (28.3), assists (9.6), field goal percentage (45.9), 3-point field goal percentage (38.3) PER (25.5), true shooting percentage (60.2), win shares per 48 minutes (.18) and win shares (9.4).

Ice Trae is viewed as a borderline All-NBA candidate this year, and not securing one of those spots could ultimately cost him upwards of $35 million. Stay tuned for this one.

Timberwolves C Karl-Anthony Towns

With Jokic and Embiid both centers, All-NBA quirks that would make either of those guys additionally eligible at forward could definitely bolster KAT’s chances of making All-NBA himself. If that route isn’t available, the 26-year-old star would be competing with Rudy Gobert for that third and final center spot. And if Towns does get a spot, he’d be looking at a jaw-dropping amount of money awaiting him on a supermax deal.

Five years and $260 million? For an ascendant team like Minnesota, keeping Towns is essential. All it takes for this to come to fruition is enough votes to make the list.

If it’s not in the cards for KAT in season No. 7, he’ll have one last chance at supermax eligibility next year.

Bulls SG Zach LaVine

While the Bulls have been one of the most pleasant surprises in the NBA this season, Zach LaVine might get squeezed out here — especially since teammate DeMar DeRozan has his own case for being more deserving of an All-NBA slot if it came down to the two of them. But as one of the top unrestricted free agents after the season, the 27-year-old has earned himself a huge contract regardless.

Though his usage rates have taken a hit next to DeRozan and center Nikola Vucevic, LaVine is still on pace to set career bests in win shares, having already done so on offense. If he can somehow sneak onto Third Team All-NBA in his final year of potential supermax eligibility, he’d hold some utterly unique leverage on the marketplace.

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