Anthony Davis failed to make an All-NBA team and lost 24 million dollars in the process. Is this good news for Pelicans fans, or will there be unforeseen consequences?
Anthony Davis will lose 24 million dollars over the course of his next contract due to his inability to qualify for the “Rose Rule” salary bonus. If you already understand how that works, skip to the picture of AD and Alvin Gentry below. If you don’t understand what that means and want a short explanation, read on.
The “Rose Rule” maximum salary exception is a special type of contract made for young NBA superstars. Named after Derrick Rose, it allows a player coming off his rookie contract to sign a max deal worth 30% of the NBA salary cap, as opposed to 25%.
To qualify for the Rose Rule, a player must do one of the following three things by the time his rookie deal ends.
- Win an MVP award.
- Be voted in as a starter in two All-Star games.
- Make two All-NBA teams.
Anthony Davis obviously hasn’t won an MVP award, and his only start on an All-Star team was last season, so making an All-NBA team was his last chance at that 5% salary bonus.
On a grand scale, Anthony Davis’ 2016-2021 contract will now be worth 121 million dollars as opposed to 145 million dollars.
Dec 4, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) and head coach Alvin Gentry talk during the second quarter of a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
What does this mean for Pelicans fans?
The obvious advantage is that the Pelicans will save some money. Over the course of Davis’ entire extension they will save 20-24 million dollars, while saving about five million dollars on an annual basis.
The question then becomes, how much is five million dollars really worth?
To answer that question, let’s take a look at the most recent NBA offseason and see what five million dollars of buying power can get us.
- Bismack Biyombo – 10 million / 2 years
- Brandan Wright – 18 million / 3 years (6 million per year, but close enough)
- J.R. Smith – 10 million / 2 years
- Jordan Hill – 4 million / 1 year
- Mirza Teletovic – 5.5 million / 1 year (close enough again)
- Kyle Singler – 25 million / 5 years
- Norris Cole – 3 million / 1 year
- Omri Caspi – 6 million / 2 years
- Kevin Seraphin – 3 million / 1 year
- Kyle O’Quinn – 16 million / 4 years
- C.J Watson – 15 million / 3 years
- Jonas Jerebko – 10 million / 2 years
- Jeremy Lin – 4 million / 2 years
- Alexis Ajinca – 20 million / 4 years
Obviously, none of these players are going to lead the Pelicans to an NBA championship; but you can never underestimate the impact of depth when constructing a roster.
Some might argue that the 2016 cap increase will lower the buying power of that five million dollars, but most of these deals were made with the 2016 cap increase in mind and extend through multiple seasons.
Some might also argue that the Pelicans are a less attractive free-agent destination than the teams these players signed with. While that’s certainly true for the Cavs or Thunder, it’s not true for the Kings, Hornets, Pacers, or Knicks; which all faced similar issues to the Pelicans and struggled to win on a consistent basis.
During this insanely injury riddled season, wouldn’t it have been nice to have C.J. Watson or Jeremy Lin off the bench as opposed to Nate Robinson or Orlando Johnson? Wouldn’t it have been nice to have Bismack Biyombo or Mirza Teletovic instead of Kendrick Perkins or Justin Hamilton?
You can certainly say “five million dollars isn’t much under an $88 million dollar cap,” but when injuries hit the team and the Pelicans run out of depth, you’ll be wishing we had just a little more spending money to buy us some back-ups.
Some have voiced concerns that AD might blame his inability to make an All-NBA team on the Pelicans front office, head coach, or his fellow teammates. If he avoids taking personal responsibility, does that mean he’s more likely to eventually leave the team?
Mar 20, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis sits on the bench during the first quarter of a game against the Los Angeles Clippers at the Smoothie King Center. It was announced prior to the game that Anthony Davis would miss the remainder of the season with a left knee injury. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Personally I don’t see much difference between being a millionaire with 121 million dollars or a millionaire with 145 million dollars, but NBA players and their agents certainly do.
The question then becomes, rational or not: will AD blame the Pelicans for the fact that he lost 24 million dollars?
I don’t think he will, and here’s my reasoning:
AD was on the 2014-2015 team, and he knows what a healthy Pelicans roster is capable of. 45 wins and the 8th seed isn’t anything to write home about, but it was a legitimate step in the path towards contending.
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Since that season, the only thing the Pelicans really did roster-wise was re-sign those same players and add a few 3rd stringers. As for firing Monty, I’m sure Davis was initially confused but he quickly became excited by the idea of playing in Gentry’s fast paced system.
As for the actual season, I don’t see how Davis could possibly blame the organization. He might blame God, or Buddha, or the Voodoo Injury Witch Doctor of the Bayou, but he can’t be mad at the team for having players who all got injured.
The second reason people were worried about Davis becoming disgruntled was the fact that the team decided to shut him down for the last few games of the season.
Could Davis have made an All-NBA team if he played a few more games this season? Maybe, but that isn’t worth sacrificing his long-term health for. If Davis had played through his injury towards the end of this season, his risk of a career altering injury would increase.
If Davis were to become tragically injured he could potentially lose out on millions of dollars in long-term potential earnings. If he’s forced to retire at 32 years old due to injury issues which began this season, wouldn’t he blame the Pelicans organization more?
Feb 25, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) celebrates forward Ryan Anderson (33) as guard Norris Cole (30) dabs following a win against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Smoothie King Center. The Pelicans defeated the Thunder 123-119. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
It’s possible Davis blames the Pelicans for his inability to make an All-NBA team, but it isn’t likely. It’s hard to believe that after experiencing the wrath of injuries the team faced first hand that he would assign that blame to the organization, coach, or players as opposed to plain old bad luck.
The most likely outcome is that Davis is simply frustrated with the world for having been dealt a bad hand. Is he happy? No, but does he blame someone in specific? I doubt it.
In the end, the only certain outcome of this situation is that the Pelicans will have a little extra spending money this summer. They will likely be able to afford one more role player or stop-gap, and will spend less time worrying about their concerning lack of depth.
As for Davis, I’m sure he’ll still be able to feed his family…