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Anthony Davis' Extension Is Sign of Megadeals to Come for Next Wave of NBA Stars

this is a discussion within the Pelicans Community Forum; Anthony Davis is unique. We've known that ever since he entered the league and began turning the NBA into his personal plaything. The New Orleans Pelicans have their hands on a potentially transcendent talent who should be in contention for ...

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Old 07-01-2015, 03:32 PM   #1
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Anthony Davis' Extension Is Sign of Megadeals to Come for Next Wave of NBA Stars

Anthony Davis is unique.

We've known that ever since he entered the league and began turning the NBA into his personal plaything. The New Orleans Pelicans have their hands on a potentially transcendent talent who should be in contention for MVP year after year, and now they've locked him up with a long-term deal.

Per Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, the two sides agreed on a maximum five-year extension worth $145 million, and it will kick in when the cap skyrockets for the 2016-17 campaign. He does have a player option for the fifth year, which means the earliest he can hit the open market comes in the summer of 2020.



This is entirely unprecedented.

Plenty of massive contracts have been handed out throughout NBA history, more so in recent years. But the average annual value here is a mind-numbing $29 million, and that could rise slightly higher if the cap does the expected and continues to go up as well.

Davis, as is so often the case when he's rotating to block a shot or making a cut to the hoop for an alley-oop feed, had perfect timing. Thanks to the convergence of the "Derrick Rose rule," one that likely lets him make up to 30 percent of the salary cap because of his early-career accolades, and the new television deal perfectly coinciding with his extension, he's able to make this kind of money so soon.

Now, as Matt Moore details for CBS Sports, he just gets to continue being unique, this time from a monetary standpoint:
The deal exceeds the total value of the seven-year, $136 million contract Kobe Bryant signed in 2004, making it the largest in NBA history. The terms aren't that surprising given that the salary cap is due to increase more than $20 million, pushing teams' cap space north of $90 million total. Ken Berger of CBS Sports reported Tuesday night additional details for the 2016 cap (it will be even higher than earlier projections had expected). That Davis has pulled in this amount during the salary cap era is a significant sign of the health of the league and a precursor to what will surely be a wild surge in total contract values over the next few years as the cap continues to expand.

Davis' deal makes it the 32nd-largest contract in American team sports history, exceeding Mike Trout's six-year, $144 million deal. Per year, Davis' $29 million total will make it the eighth-largest per-year contract in sports history.

Strange as this may be for the unibrow-boasting big man, he's only going to be unique for so long.

The television deal and the correspondingly surging cap guarantees that other young stars are going to be receiving this type of financial windfall. They may not be on the same level as the 22-year-old Davis, but it doesn't matter. The money is there, it needs to be spent, and contracts always inevitably dwarf those handed out in the past.

And, in strange situations like this one, not even the distant past.

Need an example? Let's turn to Damian Lillard.



That's a lot of money for a point guard who doesn't typically factor into the conversation involving the best players at his position. He's still a defensive sieve, and he can't challenge the Chris Pauls and Stephen Currys of the world until that changes.

Of course, Lillard is still a fantastic player, especially given his penchant for drilling three-pointers that he creates off the bounce. In the B/R NBA 200 this year, he checked in as the league's No. 5 floor general and the No. 15 overall player.



But is that enough to earn a $120 million deal?

In the past, absolutely not. But we're no longer operating under the pretenses of days that have come and gone; the television deal has guaranteed as much, pushing the league into a new financial realm that allows for such massive contracts.



Lillard is obviously getting more than $15 million. And the truly crazy part is that he could get more than $120 million as well. It's unlikely, but he could potentially work his way up into that Davis range, provided he meets the requirements for the Rose provision that allows a young player to eat up 30 percent of the cap.

As Larry Coon details in his fantastic FAQ on the collective bargaining agreement, he can take any of the following routes to earn even more moolah:
  1. Make an All-NBA squad at least twice (Lillard was All-NBA Third Team in 2014-15, so this is possible)
  2. Start in two All-Star games (impossible, since his first and only appearance thus far involved coming off the bench in 2015)
  3. Win MVP (obviously possible, but rather unlikely)
If Lillard qualifies, Rip City would almost certainly be willing to pay him the extra cash. The Blazers just don't have a choice at this point, because players are fully aware they can demand such exorbitant contracts. They have no incentive to sign lesser deals, especially when they know their organization is prepared to make them the unquestioned face of the franchise.

"This is a wise move by the Blazers, and Lillard is absolutely worthy of the investment," Brett Pollakoff wrote for NBC Sports while commenting on the expected extension. "But it's worth noting that if Lillard was willing to accept the extension at this time, then the team really had no other choice."



The teams may be the ones who have to hand out new deals, but it's the players who are controlling the proceedings. Turn down your star, and he'll find nearly as many dollar signs in a new location.

This isn't just about Davis and Lillard, either. They're the standout members of the 2012 NBA draft, which means they're the first eligible for this astronomic rise in the max rookie extension. But when the best players taken in 2013 and beyond are up for new deals, we're going to see the exact same situation unfold.

When July rolls around next year, we could very well be looking at megadeals for players such as Giannis Antetokounmpo, Rudy Gobert and Victor Oladipo. They might not be eligible to take up 30 percent of the cap, but even 25 percent will leave them in that $120 million range. What happens when Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker are looking to sign extensions in 2017?



We've reached the point of no return when it comes to these massive contracts, but it's not like it's the first time this has happened. The NBA has raised its financial stature throughout its history, and the salary cap is meant to reflect a portion of the league's revenue. As one grows, so too does the other.

During the 1999-00 season, Shaquille O'Neal was the sport's highest-paid player, and he made a whopping $17.1 million. Only 11 players made eight figures.

Compare that to the mid-level deals we've seen agreed to during this summer's still-young free-agency period.

Al-Farouq Aminu signed a four-year deal with the Portland Trail Blazers worth $30 million, per Wojnarowski. If we assume the deal has a non-escalating structure and he earns the same amount each season, he'll be paid $7.5 million for his contributions in 2015-16. That would've left him making more than all but 20 players in 1999-00.

Also according to Wojnarowski, DeMarre Carroll has left the Atlanta Hawks to join the Toronto Raptors, and he'll make $60 million over the next four seasons. That's an average annual value of $15 million, which means he'd trail only O'Neal, Kevin Garnett and Alonzo Mourning during the season that spanned Y2K.



Every so often, the league forces us to recontextualize.

Salaries now are much larger than they once were, and Davis' massive extension is ushering in the new era. It's a harbinger of what's to come for every young star these days, even if an inability to meet the stipulations of the Rose rule might force some standouts to make slightly less.

Get used to it. After all, it'll only be so long before some new stud who's not even on the radar yet makes the new Davis contract look like yet another relic of the past.



Adam Fromal covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @fromal09.

Read more New Orleans Pelicans news on BleacherReport.com



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