When your favorite NBA shooting guard, Devin Booker, made the All-NBA team this year — the first team, in fact — he became eligible for a ‘supermax’ extension worth 35% of the 2024-25 salary cap, followed by 8% increases each year after that.
The Phoenix Suns immediately offered this deal to Book and Book immediately signed it.
For Devin Booker and close friend Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves, who were both drafted in 2015 and signed that same designated veteran maximum extension this summer, that extension could easily include salaries in excess of $60 million. dollars per year.
The All-NBA pair are currently expected to be the 7th highest paid player in the NBA in the 2024-25 season, behind only Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Joel Embiid, Jimmy Butler, Nikola Jokic and Bradley Beal.
If general manager James Jones is successful and acquires Kevin Durant, the Suns would have two of the seven highest-paid players in the game in two seasons.
A total of 18 players are currently slated to earn at least $40 million in the 2024-25 season, and that’s still two years away. By the summer of 2024, that 40 million player count could double.
The maximum a player can earn, under the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement with players, is 35% of the league’s salary cap. These aren’t the old days, like the ’90s, when Michael Jordan’s final contract with the Bulls for $33 million for the 1997-98 season was 100% over that year’s cap.
After 10 years in the league, the 35% can be achieved if you’ve been named All-NBA, Defensive Player of the Year or league MVP in recent seasons – see this spotrac article for full rules details of recency.
For players like Booker and Towns, with 7-9 years in the league, the only way to reach that 35% is if you meet the criteria above AND another rule: you must have played for your same team the entire the length of your current contract. (i.e. a post-rookie contract).
According to Spotrac.com, Booker’s extension is expected to be worth $224 million. This uses a projected salary cap of $143 million as a starting point in 2024-25.
This 2024-25 ceiling is only a projection, however. Currently, it is based on an increase of $10 million per year from the current cap, but some projections call for the league to increase the cap by 10% per year as their revenues have greatly exceeded projections in the past twelve months. .
If the cap increases by 10% per year over the next two years, Booker’s salaries would look more like:
Nearly $65 million in the fourth year! Single player!?!?!? Are you ever choking on your food?
But things are not what they seem
Don’t choke. Turn that bile into a smile, Suns fans.
Booker’s salary figures will be locked in the final year of this current TNT/ESPN television deal, a year before a new deal is in place that could triple in size.
According to CNBC’s Jabari Smith, the NBA expects to sign a new $75 billion television rights deal that would begin in the 2025-26 season. This dwarfs the current deal which was a “paltry” $25 billion, or $2.6 billion a year. This current deal runs through the 2024-25 season.
If league revenue from TV rights triples in 2025-26, the salary cap could swell by well over 10%. Remember, the player salary cap is based on about half of the league’s basketball-related revenue, and television rights have made up the majority of revenue. Triple those TV rights and you can only assume that the players’ share of those rights would double or even triple, right? Why would players suddenly accept a smaller share just because the money is exploding?
Nobody knows what will happen with the 2025-26+ salary caps per team, but remember the last time the league signed a huge new TV deal…a huge one-year spike in the cap allowed players like Bismack Biyombo from getting $17 million a year and the league’s best team, the Warriors, suddenly having the option of adding full-price Kevin Freaking Durant to their roster through free agency.
What I do know is this: salaries that seem huge today won’t be so in 2025.
Booker’s projected $56 million salary for 2025-26 — locked in before the inflated cap — could be just 20% of this year’s cap instead of 35%. For perspective, it’s like giving money to Mikal Bridges for Book.
It’s possible the league preemptively raises the 2024-25 cap to smooth out the cap jump so there isn’t a 40-50% cap increase in one season. But if these owners don’t get any more money until 2025, why would they give players more?
- 30 NBA “Governors” can keep 51% of basketball-related revenue (of course they have to pay expenses with that money, but let’s not pretend there isn’t a LOT of profit)
- 450 NBA players split the remaining 49% among themselves
The inequity is shocking.
The bottom line is that while you could choke on your Wheaties at Book, probably getting more than $60 million in each of the last two years of his extension, chances are his $60 million will be a long way off. 35% of the ceiling in either season. More likely, $60 million will then be just 15-20% of the Suns’ cap, which could easily exceed $200 million.
Now imagine what Ayton’s $35 million will look like in 2025-26, or Mikal Bridges’ $24 million. A Prime Bridges at only 10% of the ceiling? Yes please.
All is not lost for Book, DA and Bridges
None of Booker, Ayton or Bridges have player options built into their contracts, so they are currently locked in on salaries based on this current TV deal.
However, the ABC currently offers a limited capacity to ‘renegotiate and extend’ at the end of an agreement. These rules regarding renegotiation are currently very narrow – enough so that it is not a reasonable avenue for Spurs and Dejounte Murray – but could be significantly extended in the new CBA (the current CBA expires in the summer of 2024, a year before the new television money kicking in). Due to the expected massive cap increase, we may see a further ‘renegotiation and extension’ based on the value of the player rather than just a % increase of his current contract.
It’s the only way many of those players already under contract will be able to taste some of that new money before their contracts expire.
Imagine 30-year-old Book renegotiating the final year of his contract to something in the $80-90 million range?