Short-term deals offer insurance for players and fans
Posted: Wednesday July 12, 2006 1:44PM; Updated: Thursday July 13, 2006 10:54AM
LeBron James' three-year extension will keep the heat on Cleveland's front office to improve the team quickly and smartly.
NBA free agents got the green light today to start signing with the team of their choice, and the biggest bit of noise seems to be coming from Cleveland, Miami and Toronto, where LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, respectively, have -- or appear ready to -- signed contract extensions with their current teams. However, these extensions, which go into effect after the 2006-07 season, will be a far cry from the deals of yesteryear, and that's fabulous news for all involved.
From 1999 until 2004, players were allowed to sign seven- or eight-year deals for outrageous gobs of money, but those deals went out the window in the summer of '05 as the league and its players signed a new collective bargaining agreement limiting contract extensions to five years. For some of the stars of the '03 draft, even that appears to be too long, as each appears ready to sign only a three-year deal, with player options for a fourth.
By signing for only three (or four, if the player is well-pleased) years, these young superstars can make more money overall by taking advantage of their status as seventh-year players in '10. By then they'll be allowed to take up 30 percent of their team's cap room, a five percent increase from what sixth-year players are allowed to swallow. It may seem like a dangerous gamble, risking millions now for the hope of a few more down the line -- but in the meantime the league's fans end up as the real winners.
A three-year deal also enables players to keep their GMs on their toes, like Tim Duncan did during the length of a deal he signed in '00. Brilliant basketball minds such as San Antonio's Gregg Popovich and R.C. Buford don't need much help, but Duncan's truncated contract allowed for cap flexibility and an added bit of incentive to, you know, not sign the likes of Joe Smith and Derrick Coleman.