Previewing Contracts for Luka Doncic, Trae Young and Stars of 2018 NBA Draft

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistNovember 24, 2020

Dallas Mavericks' Luka Doncic celebrates after making a game-winning 3-point basket against the Los Angeles Clippers during overtime of an NBA basketball first round playoff game Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The Mavericks won 135-133 in overtime. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis, Pool)
Ashley Landis/Associated Press

Donovan Mitchell, Jayson Tatum and Bam Adebayo got paid this offseason, signing designated rookie extensions for five years and up to $195 million. A number of players will be eligible to sign such deals next season, including Luka Doncic and Trae Young. 

So, what will those deals look like?

First, some background. Players on rookie deals can sign five-year extensions that go up to 25 percent of a team's salary cap in the offseason before the final year of their rookie deal. This is the designated rookie extension, and teams can have up to two such players on their team at any given time (they can only acquire one via trade, however). 

Additionally, the Rose Rule allows teams to sign players entering the final season on their rookie deals to even more money, up to 30 percent of the cap. To qualify for such an extension, however, players have to hit one of the following benchmarks:

  • All-NBA selection in the most recent season, or in two of the past three years.
  • Named Defensive Player of the Year in either the most recent season or in two of the past three years.
  • Named MVP in any of the past three seasons.

Doncic and Young will almost assuredly sign such extensions that go for five years and up to 30 percent of the cap. What exactly the cap figure looks like heading into the 2021-22 season remains unknown, but it's a safe bet to assume that those players sign deals that can go up to somewhere close to $200 million. 

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Signing both players to those deals is a no-brainer for Dallas and Atlanta, respectively. What will be far more interesting is if any other players in the 2018 draft class hit those benchmarks and get max extensions next summer. 

DeAndre Ayton will present an interesting choice for Phoenix. While he's been good to this point in his career (17 PPG, 10.7 RPG, 1.1 BPG), it's fair to question if he's been max-extension good. This upcoming season is important for the young center in that regard.

And of course, teams like the Suns don't have to sign young players to these early extensions. They could let Aytons's final year of his rookie deal (2021-22) play out and either sign him to an extension in the Summer of 2022 or match any offer sheets he signs as a restricted free agent. The Pelicans essentially took that route with Brandon Ingram before signing the restricted free agent to a five-year, $158 million max extension this offseason. 

Other teams that may take that approach could be the Memphis Grizzlies with Jaren Jackson Jr., Sacramento with Marvin Bagley, the Oklahoma City Thunder with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and the Denver Nuggets with Michael Porter Jr.

The only two players who seem like absolute guarantees to sign a designated rookie extension next offseason are Doncic and Young. Big 2020-21 seasons from players like Ayton, Jackson and Porter could add them to the list, however.