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Explained: What is an NBA supermax contract and how does it work?

Explained: What is an NBA supermax contract and how does it work?

With All-NBA selections made and franchises deciding about contract extensions, fans will see the term "supermax contract" thrown around a lot. 

Here's a quick primer with everything you need to know about the NBA's most lucrative player deals. 

What is a supermax contract?

Officially known as the "Designated Veteran Player Extension," this rule allows teams to re-sign qualified players to maximum five-year contracts worth up to 35 percent of the salary cap with eight percent escalation in each subsequent year.

The length of the supermax deal depends on the player's years of NBA experience and years remaining on his current contract. 

  • A qualified player who has completed seven or eight years of service and has two years left on his contract is eligible for a four-year supermax (keeping the player with the same team for a total of six seasons)
  • A qualified player who has completed seven or eight years of service and has one year left on his contract is eligible for a five-year supermax (keeping the player with the same team for a total of six seasons)
  • A qualified free agent who has completed eight or nine years of service is eligible for a five-year supermax 

Furthermore, teams cannot trade a supermax player for the first year after he signs the contract.  

How much is a supermax contract worth?

Valued up to 35 percent of the salary cap in the initial year and subject to eight percent escalation in each subsequent year, these deals are mammoth money.

For example, the Wizards signed John Wall to a four-year supermax in the summer of 2017 when he had two years left on his contract. The supermax money begins in 2019-20 and pays Wall $38.15 million that year. With annual escalations, his supermax is worth $170.912 million over the four-year lifetime of the deal. 

According to a report by Yahoo's Chris Haynes, Damian Lillard—who has two years remaining on his current deal with the Trail Blazers and is expected to be named to an All-NBA team—will be offered a four-year supermax extension worth roughly $191 million this summer. 

Who is eligible to sign a supermax contract?

Very few players qualify for a supermax contract. First, only a player that has (or will have) completed eight years of NBA service by the end of his current contract is eligible to sign a supermax deal, which can only be offered by the team that drafted him or traded for his rookie contract. 

Then, a player must meet one of the following three criteria.

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

Which players have received supermax contracts?

  • Stephen Curry - Golden State Warriors
  • James Harden - Houston Rockets
  • Russell Westbrook - Oklahoma City Thunder
  • John Wall - Washington Wizards

Who could receive a supermax contract this summer?

Anthony Davis is already eligible for a supermax offer from the Pelicans. The following players also could receive supermax offers after the All-NBA announcement:

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo - Milwaukee Bucks
  • Damian Lillard - Portland Trail Blazers
  • Kemba Walker - Charlotte Hornets

What are the drawbacks to supermax deals?

The supermax contract was designed to help teams retain their players by allowing them to offer significantly more money than the competition; however, teams that offer such contracts are squeezing themselves in terms of salary cap room to fill out their rosters. 

No franchise can carry more than two supermax players at 35 percent of the cap each. Functionally, though, it's difficult for a team to have more than one.

Two supermax players would account for 70 percent of a team's salary in any given year, leaving the club virtually unable to sign a competitive supporting cast. 

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2020 NBA Draft: Robert Woodard II could be one of the best prospects no one is talking about

2020 NBA Draft: Robert Woodard II could be one of the best prospects no one is talking about

The Washington Wizards are likely to have a lottery pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who could fall around where the Wizards will select...

2020 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: Robert Woodard II

Team: Mississippi State
Position: SF
Age: 20 (turns 21 in September)
Height: 6-7
Weight: 230
Wingspan: 7-1

2019/20 stats: 31 G, 33.1 mpg, 11.4 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.3 apg, 1.1 spg, 1.0 bpg, 49.5 FG% (4.4/8.9), 42.9 3PT% (1.0/2.3), 64.1 FT%

Player comparison: Jae Crowder, Chandler Parsons

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 25th, Sports Illustrated 43rd, Ringer 28th, NBADraft.net N/A, Bleacher Report N/A

5 things to know:

*Few players in college basketball took as big of a jump as Woodard from his freshman year to his sophomore season. He transitioned from a bench role player that could do a little bit of everything, into an able-bodied scorer off the ball that could take advantage of multiple size matchups. His scoring improved by a six-point average and had a key role in the Bulldogs' offense.

*Most impressive for Woodard was the development of an outside shot. His growth included a 15% jump from long-range with an added confidence to score at all three levels. Mind you, his 42.9% shooting was only on 70 attempts and an area of his game that was not previously highlighted. 

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*How Woodard fits on an NBA roster is what has mock draft experts split on where he will be selected. Some don't even have him being drafted. It seems he's most natural on the floor playing as a guard, however, he has a high dribble and commits two turnovers a game for someone that typically does not run the point. He has the accuracy to be a wing scorer, but lacks the consistent shot selection of a 3-point threat. Some evaluators see him as an undersized four, for his rebounding and presence around the rim, but his post-moves are really nonexistent. 

*Woodard is built well and has an NBA-ready frame. It led him to be an effective rebounder 6.5 boards per game as a nontraditional post player and a good defender with the agility to block shots. He also has a high basketball IQ which makes him a high-level defender off the ball.

*Woodard's father, Robert Woodard is Mississippi's all-time high school scorer with 4,274 points. He also continued his playing days at Mississippi State. 

Fit with Wizards: Positional flexibility with a knack for hitting 3-pointers would be why the Wizards would take a chance on Woodard. Many of the fundamentals of his game are already set which wouldn't mean Washington would need to spend time on development. 

He has a similar offensive game to Rui Hachimura: Nice size and build, that occasionally also steps out behind the arc. He can also rotate to multiple positions.

How the Wizards would utilize Woodard remains to be seen though. Backing up Hachimura, who was drafted just the year prior is not a long-term sustainable plan. Having Woodard even be a bigger wing (ie. Davis Bertans if re-signed) would be another back-up role. Yet, Woodard does not nearly jack up as many threes as Bertans. Playing Woodard as a guard isn't really in the cards either.

A depth piece that can fit in multiple spots is Woodard's biggest asset for the Wizards. And from there they could develop him into the role they see fit. His one season of a robust 3-point shooter is not enough to see that being his future.

There's not much to justify him going in the lottery. However, if Tommy Sheppard wants to add a young, NBA ready-built player in the second round or even as an undrafted free agent, Woodard could provide value in those spots. The athleticism and ability are there.

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5 NBA players from the 90s who would be much better if they played today

5 NBA players from the 90s who would be much better if they played today

With everyone getting nostalgic for throwback hoops these days, here's a look at five 1990s players who would be better fits for today's NBA than the were in the era they played in...

Glen Rice, SF

Rice wasn't so underrated that he didn't make All-Star teams or even All-NBA. He made a few of those and was even a household name for many fans given his college career and the NBA markets he played in. But looking back at his numbers, it seems like he should have received a lot more credit for being a star.

Rice had some years he didn't make the All-Star team that make you scratch your head, like in 1994-95 when he averaged 22.3 points and shot 41 percent from three. At his peak, he was averaging nearly 27 points and shooting a ridiculous 47 percent from long range. Despite being such a great shooter, he only averaged 3.9 three-point attempts per game for his career. If he played today, he would have had the green light to attempt many more.

Dale Ellis, SG/SF

Ellis made All-NBA and the All-Star team once, but that doesn't seem like enough. From the 1986-87 season through 1998-99, so 13 years, he averaged 17.9 points per game while shooting 40.6 percent from three (4.0 attempts) with a 54.2 effective field goal percentage.

Ellis didn't fill up the box score in many other categories, but the efficiency suggests he would have been relied on a lot more in today's game. He was regularly among the NBA leaders in eFG%, he just didn't get the credit for it he would if he played now.

Walt Williams, SF

'The Wizard' was a three-point specialist for a long time in the NBA, but back then it was easy to be boxed in by that role. If Williams played now, some team would likely unlock his range to turn him potentially into an All-Star. Williams was 6-foot-8 and in 1996-97 hit 40 percent from three on 6.0 attempts per game.

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While Williams sometimes fell into the category of 'tweener,' nowadays he would be an ideal fit as sort of a positionless sharpshooter. And given he shot 39.9 percent from three in his last three seasons, maybe he would have played past the age of 32.

Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, PG

Those who didn't watch Abdul-Rauf, who was formerly known as Chris Jackson, play perhaps know him from when Phil Jackson drew a comparison between him and Stephen Curry. Abdul-Rauf had plenty of acclaim in college and early in his NBA career, but it seems like he would have had more success in the pro ranks now because players like him are more commonplace.

Abdul-Rauf was undersized, but made up for it with his range and at his peak shot just south of 40 percent from three. Though Curry is much better, he along with Trae Young and others are disciples of Abdul-Rauf. Abdul-Rauf also likely would have been given more leeway nowadays for the political stances he took as a player.

Toni Kukoc, SF/PF

On one hand, more people probably know who Kukoc is than the average player of his caliber from the 1990s era simply because he played on three title teams with the Bulls. But Kukoc is viewed as a good role player and not a star. If he played now in the right situation, he could have made a much larger impact and probably made a few All-Star teams.

In his prime, he regularly held an eFG% over 50 and filled up the stat sheet in a variety of ways. The 1998-99 season, the first after Michael Jordan's second retirement, is a good example. Kukoc averaged 18.8 points, 7.0 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.1 steals. At 6-foot-10, he had some unicorn tendencies before they were popular.

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