Why NBA Teams Won't Secure Young Players To Longer Contracts

Kevin Durant Oklahoma City Thunder NBA

Photo: Technorati

The NBA’s November 1 deadline to extend the contracts of 2007 draft picks is fast approaching, but just two fourth-year players have been inked to extensions so far. And it appears the lockout is to be blamed.When teams draft players out of college they sign four-year contracts under terms that are subject to the rookie salary scale.

The first two years of the deal are guaranteed; the third and fourth years are team options. If a player is still around for the fourth year, his original team has the first crack at re-signing him to a fifth year and beyond—provided they do so by Monday’s deadline.

Otherwise, he’s free to test free agency next year.

In the past, teams tried to hammer out these extensions early to get players on the cheap. This offseason, for example, while the rest of the country focused on the LeBron decision, the Thunder quietly signed 2007 second overall pick Kevin Durant to a 5-year $86 million dollar contract. It’s a relative bargain for a player who compares favourably with Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. The Bulls’ Joakim Noah (10th overall) is the only other class of 2007 player to be signed.

But with an uncertain salary structure looming, teams are reluctant to re-sign their players. (Unless they’re proven talents like Noah and Durant.) A deal that’s reasonable under a $58 million salary cap, might not be so appealing if player spending falls next year—or if there is no next year—as David Stern has suggested will happen.

Here’s a list of a few notable players who remain unsigned and could become restricted free agents in 2011.

  • Greg Oden, Portland (1st overall)
  • Al Horford, Atlanta (3rd)
  • Mike Conley, Jr., Memphis (4th overall)
  • Jeff Green, Oklahoma City (5th)
  • Corey Brewer, Minnesota (7th)
  • Brendan Wright, Golden State (8th)
  • Rodney Stuckey, Detroit (15th)
  • Jared Dudley, Phoenix (22nd)
  • Wilson Chandler, New York (23rd)

See Also: Are You Ready For A Year Without The NBA?

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