34-year-old Rockets center loses $4 million on contract because of obscure NBA rule

Nene’s new deal is a little smaller than everybody thought it would be. Ronald Martinez/Getty

Houston Rockets center Nene had a strange snafu on his new contract that ended up costing him $US4 million.

Nene, who is 34 years old, reportedly agreed to re-sign with the Rockets on a four-year, $US15 million deal this summer.

However, because of a little-known rule in the NBA’s CBA called the “over-38 rule”, Nene had to restructure the agreement and ended up re-signing on a three-year, $US11 million deal.

The “over-38 rule” doesn’t allow players to sign deals longer than three years if they would be getting paid beyond their 38th birthday. Because Nene is 34, the four-year deal would have taken him past his 38th birthday.

Nene then hit the open market again and appeared to explore other options before returning to the Rockets on a contract of a similar annual rate, just without the fourth year.

The over-38 rule was previously over-36, and it actually foiled LeBron James’ master plan to sign the first $US200 million contract because a five-year deal would have taken him past his 36th birthday. However, the players union renegotiated the deal in the new CBA and changed it to 38.

For Nene, the pay rate is similar, but losing $US4 million, plus an extra year of security, can’t be great.

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