The Thunder has a chance to extend Russell Westbrook an additional five years this summer with what’s called the Designated Player Exception.
I wrote about the DPE for Thursday’s Oklahoman (you can read that story here), but subscriber Craig Blankenship emailed me with some solid additional questions about the exception which I couldn’t get dive into fully in my story.
You could write a War and Peace-sized novel on the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the finer details of the DPE and every stipulation tied into each rule of the CBA. Even if you go by the current CBA to figure out how much Westbrook could earn in the upcoming years, there’s no guarantee the new CBA (which will kick in July 1) won’t have changes which alter contracts and franchise’s attempts to plan ahead.
With that being said, let’s tackle some additional questions with what we know now:
Q: If Westbrook signs the DPE, are all seasons guaranteed?
A: Yes, unless otherwise noted (Ex. team option, player option. partially guaranteed contract up until a specific date), NBA year-to-year salaries are guaranteed.
If Westbrook signs the DPE this summer, is he under contract for five years or six?
Six: The year he has left on this deal in 2017-18, plus an additional five years. Westbrook currently has one more guaranteed year remaining on the two-year re-negotiation/extension he signed Aug. 4, 2016, in which he’ll make $28.5 million, plus a player option for 2018-19. If Westbrook was to sign the DPE this summer, it would essentially take the place of the player option year, and the additional five years would start in the 2018-19 season.
Could he wait until after next season to sign the DPE?
Yes. While Westbrook has until July 1 until the start of the regular season to agree to the DPE, he could also wait, opt out of the final year of his deal in the summer of 2018 and sign with the Thunder as a free agent (although Westbrook would hit unrestricted free agency, a la Kevin Durant, and could be wooed by other teams).
Can another team offer Westbrook more money in free agency?
No. The DPE was set up specifically to help teams keep their mega stars like Westbrook. The Thunder can offer five years, whereas another team in free agency can only offer four. A four-year max from another team projects at $161 million for Westbrook.
Where did the number $219 million over five years come from?
The projection over five years is based on Westbrook being eligible to receive roughly 35 percent of the team’s salary cap in his first year of the new deal. From there, his salary will increase each season by 7.5 percent of his salary from 2018-19. You’ll see projections land anywhere between $217-219 million because the salary cap for the 2018-19 season hasn’t been set yet.