Unlike Allan Houston and the “Allan Houston Rule,” it was fitting that Derrick Rose was the first player to benefit from the “Derrick Rose Rule,” a provision in the new collective bargaining agreement that makes a player completing his rookie deal eligible for 30 percent of the salary cap as a max salary if he meets certain criteria.
Beginning with the 2012-13 season, Rose will receive nearly $95 million over the next five years. That’s about $11 million more than he would have gotten under the old deal, which limited players with six years or less of experience to 25 percent of the cap as a max.
The quiet Rose said he felt “no pressure” to perform up to the expectations of a contract averaging $19 million annually. And his teammates are pretty excited that he is staying put and keeping Chicago in title contention.
Rose became eligible for the bump by winning MVP honors last season, one of the three thresholds. The other two are twice being voted All-NBA or an All-Star starter.
Rose was an All-NBA First Team selection last year but did not make any of the top three teams in 2010. He has been an All-Star the last two years but did not start in 2010, coming off the bench behind Dwyane Wade and Joe Johnson.
While All-NBA teams are voted on by the media, All-Star starters are determined by a fan ballot. And that’s the problem with that threshold. All-Star balloting is a popularity contest, and now can impact a player’s earning potential – and a team’s long-term financial flexibility.
Active players who have started at least two All-Star Games in their first four years include Kobe Bryant, Vince Carter and LeBron James. But in recent years, the list also includes Steve Francis, Penny Hardaway, Grant Hill and Yao Ming.
Francis was a media creation who never shot above 45 percent and played in five playoff games in his entire career. He shouldn’t have received a max contract, which makes the idea of giving him 30 percent of the cap truly revolting. And where would the Rockets have been if they were bound to the same deal with Yao, who missed two games in his first three seasons and 244 over the next six?
The Magic would have had the same dilemma with Hardaway had Shaquille O’Neal not fled via free agency. And Hardaway missed just five games in his first three seasons, then missed 188 over the next six. Orlando tried to rebuild around Hill, who missed just 25 games in his first six seasons, then missed 357 over the next six.
The amnesty clause – also known as the “Allan Houston Rule” – and stretch exception give teams avenues to clear their cap of a bad max deal. But it doesn’t clear their payroll ledger. Ask the Magic’s financial department how active they will be in free agency over the next three years knowing they owe $62 million to Gilbert Arenas.
And there are “Rose Rule” candidates right now. Given Blake Griffin’s popularity in a major market and Carmelo Anthony’s move to the Eastern Conference, is it unreasonable to assume Griffin will start the next two All-Star Games? And what if Russell Westbrook – who is nowhere near his ceiling – somehow wins MVP this season?
You can almost imagine the team department meetings.
Clippers VP of Marketing: “Let’s start a campaign to get Blake voted to the All-Star Game.”
Clippers VP of Communications: “Hey! That’s a great idea!”
Clippers VP of Finance: “I don’t know if that’s a good idea.”
Clippers owner Donald Sterling: “It’s definitely not a good idea.”
TRIVIA: Which team has the all-time best winning percentage on Christmas? Answer below.
THE END OF CIVILIZATION AS WE KNOW IT: Kim Jong-un, the youngest son and successor to deceased North Korean wingnut Kim Jong-Il, is a huge fan of the NBA and is said to own a vast video library of games featuring Michael Jordan.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Kings forward DeMarcus Cousins, joking about his offseason diet and training regimen:
“I was eating candy. Ice cream. Pizza. Whole pizzas. When I went to New York, that’s all I ate. Pizzas, funnel cakes. I love gummy worms. Love fried food. Fried shrimp, fried fish, fried chicken. It was beautiful. I probably did like 30 minutes (of workouts) a day. The rest of the time I probably sat there and feasted. My fingers got very strong this year, a lot of video games. I won’t be getting swiped as much this year. Hands are pretty strong. It’s going to be a good season.”
LINE OF THE WEEK: Chauncey Billups, LA Clippers at LA Lakers, Dec. 19: 20 minutes, 5-8 FGs, 4-6 3-pointers, 9-9 FTs, three assists, three steals, 23 points in a 117-96 win. Yeah, that transition to shooting guard is gonna be real tough. For the game, Billups’ points-per-shot was 2.88. Last season, he was third in the NBA with a 1.52 PPS.
LINE OF THE WEAK: Tracy McGrady, Atlanta at Charlotte, Dec. 19: 12 minutes, 0-2 FGs, one rebound, two fouls, zero points in a 79-77 loss. Yes, it was his first preseason game for a new team. However, fellow reserves who outscored the former scoring champion included Ivan Johnson, Brad Wanamaker, Pape Sy, Donald Sloan and the immortal Magnum Rolle.
GAME OF THE WEEK: Miami at Dallas, Dec. 25. Don’t think we’ll catch LeBron James and Dwyane Wade mocking Dirk Nowitzki before this one, not when they will have to watch the hoisting of a championship banner at their expense. Try to occasionally take your eyes of the superstars to watch an underrated matchup between speedsters Norris Cole of Miami and Roddy Beaubois of Dallas.
GAME OF THE WEAK: Toronto at Cleveland, Dec. 26. A sure sign that Christmas is over. …
It’s getting close to Christmas, and the free agent shelves are almost empty.
Opening Day is just three days away. Teams want to make sure they stay within budget. Players are worried that they may be dramatically marked down. And most of the nice gifts are already gone.
In addition to the retirements of Peja Stojakovic and Antonio McDyess, this week saw restricted free agents Arron Afflalo, Kris Humphries and Nick Young re-sign with their teams. The Knicks signed amnesty victim Baron Davis, the Clippers grabbed Reggie Evans and the Rockets drove a very hard bargain to snare Samuel Dalembert at a reduced price.
So what’s left? A holiday six-pack of guards and wings, including two that started the majority of their team’s games last season.
The 6-11 Dalembert would have been delivered to a center-starved squad weeks ago had he not been looking for a deal that paid eight figures annually. Even in a league bereft of quality big men, that’s way too much scratch for a guy who plays as if he is wearing oven mitts, never has developed a patented move, has no idea how to pass and commits roughly 487 goaltending violations per season.
The Kings were so high on Dalembert that they renounced their rights to him at the outset of free agency, clearing cap room to
overpay re-sign Marcus Thornton and sign undersized center Chuck Hayes. Rockets GM Daryl Morey needed a center just a tad less than a plant needs water but balked at the sticker price.
In an awful ironic twist, Hayes – who plays with as much heart as anyone in the NBA – was found to have a bum ticker. The Kings voided his contract and had a chunk of cap room, so Dalembert went slinking back to Sacramento, blissfully indifferent to the fact that this was the same team that two weeks earlier deemed his cap slot more valuable than his skill.
But the price obviously was still a bit steep, because Kings GM Geoff Petrie ended the negotiations. So Dalembert again went back to Morey, who now was holding all the cards. The final numbers were $13.7 million over two years – but the Rockets have a $1.5 million buyout for the second year.
Dalembert may have cost himself a chunk of money with some questionable negotiating, but at least he has found a home. More perplexing is why Michael Redd remains unemployed.
Redd has twice torn his left ACL, so his days as a starter are over. But Redd is a shooter who can provide instant offense off the bench and match up with opposing reserves, which would limit his liabilities on defense.
The Pacers, who are looking upwardly mobile in the weaker Eastern Conference, met with Redd last week. The Knicks, Wizards and Celtics also are believed to be interested. The big money is gone forever, and Redd may have to go year to year for a while until he proves he can stay healthy. But he could re-invent himself as a Steve Kerr type and become very desirable.
Here are the other five players who should have found a team by now:
JAMES POSEY: He was the amnesty cut of the Pacers, so he can be picky about where he signs because he is already being paid. He has been a part of two championship teams, providing defense and clutch shooting. He would seem to be a good fit for the Celtics, backing up Paul Pierce at small forward and perhaps playing at the 4-spot when they go small.
AL THORNTON: One of this space’s guilty pleasures. There is so much distaste to his game, but we like him. Until last season, he had averaged double figures every season and also would be an ideal sparkplug off some team’s bench. He also is just 28 years old. The Bobcats, Nets and Raptors could all use help at small forward.
KEITH BOGANS: No player who started more than half of his team’s games last season averaged less than the 4.4 points Bogans posted. Of his 307 shots, only 80 came from inside the arc. But he shot 38 percent from 3-point range and accepts any challenge at the defensive end. He also has a chip on his shoulder after the way he was dissed by the Bulls. The Knicks could forget about Redd and go after Bogans, who can stand in the corner, fire 3-pointers and shore up an awful perimeter defense.
DESHAWN STEVENSON: Let loose by the defending champion Mavericks, Stevenson may be in a game of musical chairs with Bogans. His numbers are similar (5.3 ppg, just 81 of 330 shots inside the arc, 38 percent on 3-pointers) as is his desire to get after it on defense. Stevenson’s agent said his client had interest from multiple teams. That was a week ago.
GILBERT ARENAS: It’s no secret why Arenas is still available. A series of knee injuries robbed him of much of his explosiveness and he never has displayed any sort of prolonged professionalism during his 10-year career. Agent Zero is potentially the biggest high-risk, high-reward acquisition since Latrell Sprewell.
Arenas was Orlando’s amnesty cut, which means a team willing to take the risk for the reward probably could get him on the cheap. He is still not yet 30 and could be a vibrant third guard for the rest of his career if he ever got his head on straight.
Arenas claims to have a wish list of the Lakers, Knicks, Heat or wherever Dwight Howard is traded. Before we start blasting him as an ingrate for declaring where he wants to play, let’s remember it is the time of year that people put together wish lists.
TWO MINUTES: A game that counts has yet to be played under the new CBA, and on some levels it already is obsolete. The Chris Paul trade fiasco was the first and worst example, proving that superstars still hold sway over where they play; no one can deny that if the Hornets were not owned by the NBA that Paul would be alongside Kobe Bryant in one of the great backcourts in history. But a second alarming example surfaced this week as owners again illustrated that they need the CBA to have a mechanism that saves them from themselves. Restricted free agent guards Arron Afflalo, Rodney Stuckey and Marcus Thornton all received contracts averaging at least $8 million per season, even though their teams could have allowed opposing teams to set the market and react accordingly. Afflalo never averaged more than 8.8 points until last season. Stuckey spent most of last season arguing with his coach. And Thornton has veteran John Salmons and ballyhooed rookie Jimmer Fredette behind him on the depth chart. The owners may have unknowingly reset the market for backcourt players, and you have to wonder what folks like DeMar DeRozan, James Harden and O.J. Mayo will be looking for in their next deals. … The deadline for teams to exercise the third-year option on 2010 first-round picks has been bumped to Jan. 25, which means teams will get an extra month to look at these guys before making their decision. While picking up the option usually is a formality, the Suns did not pick up Earl Clark’s option a year ago. … Most of the folks involved in the scuttled Chris Paul trade were complaining, fuming or sulking, Rockets forward Luis Scola kept his sense of humor. After learning that Paul was traded to the Clippers, Scola cracked to the Houston Chronicle, “I was surprised there was finally a trade for Chris Paul and I wasn’t in it.” … Outside of Ricky Rubio, perhaps the most polarizing rookie this season will be Fredette. The BYU bomber made his debut Saturday vs. Golden State and scored 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting, drawing praise from Warriors coach Mark Jackson. “He’s tough, hard-nosed, gritty and obviously shot the lights out. Very impressive. I thought at times we allowed him to get us on our heels.” … When the Magic got run out of the gym in their preseason opener vs. the Heat, it ended a 22-game preseason winning streak dating to 2008. … Normally reserved Ray Allen rattled some cages this week when he criticized free agent David West for spurning the Celtics and signing with the Pacers. “Once it got down to the end, I think his ego kicked back in,” Allen said. “He wanted the dollars. I guess it comes down to ‘What is a championship worth to you?’ Think of all the guys who have made $20 million and could be considered one of the best ever, but they get chided because they never won. We (Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce) all had to do less when we won. We’re still taking less to make it work. But it’s worth it. No one can ever say to KG, Paul or me, ‘You guys never got your ring.’” Yes, West got more money – $20 million over two years – from the Pacers, who had cap room that the Celtics did not. But West also will be starting at power forward, a scenario that is hard to imagine would have happened in Boston. West said what appealed to him about the Pacers was “the core, the young group. I like the fact that they are feisty. In the Eastern Conference, there is a chance for us to move up. I felt that there was improvement from last year and I feel I can add to this group.” … Bismack Biyombo’s ordeal is over. The No. 7 pick from Congo ponied up nearly $1 million of the $1.5 million buyout clause to get out of the last two years of his contract with Spanish club Fuenlabrada. The 19-year-old had been attending team practices but was working out on his own. But that didn’t prevent him from impressing coach Paul Silas with his athleticism and exuberance, dunking 73 straight times in a conditioning drill before being stopped by the staff. “He could have gotten to 100,” Silas told reporters. A good number for the drill is 30. …
Trivia Answer: Portland is 14-3 on Dec. 25. … Happy 62nd Birthday, Dave Robisch. … Knicks fans will know if signing Baron Davis was a good move when Dan Gilbert fires off another angry email.
Chris Bernucca is a regular contributor to SheridanHoops.com. His columns appear every Thursday. You can follow him on Twitter.