Here’s what the NBA SUPERMAX contract means in laymen’s terms

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Over the last couple seasons, there’s been a lot of talk about players making the “Supermax”. To be honest, as we wrote this post, we had an idea, but weren’t completely certain exactly who or what qualified for a “Supermax” contract or “Supermax” deal. So in this article, we’ll take what we learned and try to give a layman’s answer to the what is the NBA Supermax question.

What is a Supermax contract and what does it mean?

Officially known as the “Designated Veteran Player Extension”, the Supermax was created so that teams could incentivize their superstar players from leaving during free-agency. Now it’s not completely up to the team to just dump a truckload of money at the players house, the NBA created specific qualifications that rewards the superstars in the league for… well, being the superstars they are. We’ll get into that in a moment.

The key to the Supermax contract is that it allows a franchise the leverage to keep their own superstar free agents by offering significantly more money than any other team can offer. The goal here is that these players will decide to stay put in Charlotte (Kemba Walker), New Orleans (Anthony Davis and Zion Williamson), Milwaukee (Giannis Antetokounmpo ) and other less marketable franchises that struggle to compete with the New Yorks and L.A.s during free agency negotiations. Sure, you can sign with the Knicks for $150 million or you can sign with Memphis for $230 million.

Ultimately, this helps the NBA’s small market teams keep their stars in thus, stay competitive and relevant.

What players are eligible for a SUPERMAX contract?

It’s not just any superstar or all-star that qualifies for a Supermax . We can easily call the Supermax “the 1% contract” because literally one percent of the league actually qualifies for it. That’s because only a player that has completed (or will have completed) eight years of NBA service by the end of his current contract is eligible to sign a Supermax contact. Not only that but the Supermax can only be offered based on their rookie contract, so it can only be put forth by the franchise that drafted them or the team that traded for their rookie contract.

And it don’t stop. To qualify for the Supermax , a player must also meet one of the following prerequisites.

  • Named to an All-NBA team in the most recent season (or both seasons before it).
  • OR, named NBA Defensive Player of the Year in the most recent season (or both seasons before it)
  • OR, awarded the NBA MVP in any of the three previous seasons

Here are the four players that have received Supermax deals:

Obviously teams are gambling with any long term contract, but there’s exponentially more risk with a Supermax (so why not use these uk codes for betting). Take the Washington Wizards for example. When they signed Wall to a Supermax , they didn’t know that he would be oft-injured point guard would miss a total of 91 regular season games over the following two seasons.

Here are the all the NBA players that have qualified for the Supermax in NBA history.

How much is the NBA SUPERMAX contract worth?

Now that we know we’re talking about maaaaaaaybe 3-4 players every season, let’s get into how much one of these massive contracts can be worth.

According to the NBPA guidelines, SUPERMAX gives NBA franchises the ability to re-sign their star players to maximum five-year contracts. These deals are worth up to 35% of the salary cap with annual raises of 8% in each of the subsequent seasons on the deal. This is all based on the first year salary. On top of that, if a player. It may be seen as a player-friendly deal and it is, but it also has significant benefits for the team, too (as we discussed above). Another stipulation is that the teams cannot trade a Supermax player for the first year after they sign the deal.

But that doesn’t give you numbers you’re seeking. Let’s give you some examples or previous Supermax contracts.

When Stephen Curry signed his Supermax deal in 2017, it was the richest in NBA history at the time. The deal was a five-year, $201 million extension – so approximately worth $40 million per year on average. James Harden outdid Curry a couple weeks later by signing a Supermax extension worth $227.9 million over the next six seasons.

In that same summer, John Wall agreed to a 4-year, $170 million extension with the Washington Wizards, so looking at these handful of Supermax contacts, they’re worth, on average, between $37-42 million a year.

The Supermax is a great option for small market teams. Still, it comes with significant cost that forces franchises to think about placing all their chips on players like Damian Lillard or Kemba Walker. Would you give them the Supermax ?

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