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Why The Toronto Raptors Can’t Extend DeMar DeRozan

There are a lot of puff articles and even interviews lamenting the fact the Toronto Raptors and their star guard DeMar DeRozan are not pursuing contract extension talks prior to the start of this season. Aside from the fact this isn’t news and was well covered last season, the Raptors and anyone else who has bothered to look at the NBA CBA knows Toronto can’t extend DeRozan to anything remotely approaching his market value under the current rules.

Larry Coon’s NBA Salary Cap Faq provides the layman’s wording of the contract between the NBA and it’s players. Here are the highlights pertaining to DeRozan’s situation:

60. Can existing contracts be extended?

Veteran extensions:

A contract with an option can be extended if the player (or team) opts-in.

Veteran extensions are limited to four seasons, including the seasons remaining on the current contract.

The salary in the first year of a veteran extension may be any amount up to 107.5% of the player’s previous salary

So, that makes three quick reasons why no extension talks were ever even remotely considered to be possible.

  1. DeRozan has a player option for next season, so to sign an extension he would have to opt in and earn $10 million next year. That’s out of the question – the extension option just died on the vine right here.
  2. DeRozan would have this year and next year to play out under his old contract terms if he signed an extension before the end of this season. As extensions are limited to four years that would only give him a maximum of two seasons at his new salary under the extension. Neither DeRozan nor his agent are going to do that.
  3. The raise under the new contract would be limited to 7.5 percent of his current contract or a new salary of less than $11 million. Another huge deal breaker.

Veteran players due big raises are no longer doing extensions in the NBA. They just don’t make any sense. DeRozan will play out the season and negotiate a new deal – likely in the +$20 million per season range for four years next July – because it’s the only reasonable option the current CBA gives him.

Put the hype and the blather about the Raptors failure to to lock up their star long term to bed. It was never even possible (bearing tragic unforeseen circumstances.)


Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.