The Oklahoma City Thunder forward finished his four-year rookie contract last June, signing a five-year extension with the team that takes effect this season. While he was slated to receive the maximum salary in 2011-12, the actual salary amount was somewhat nebulous.
This is because the specific salary in a maximum extension is not determined until the first season of the extension. With a new collective bargaining agreement taking effect this season, Durant had to wait through both the labor dispute and the final adjudication on some of the finer points of the new rules before his actual salary could be determined.
One of the new rules has come to be known as the Derrick Rose Rule. It allows franchise-level players to receive a higher maximum salary starting in their fifth year in the league. These players now can receive the same maximum salary as a player with seven years in the league. In order to qualify, the player must meet specific eligibility requirements -- he must have been the Most Valuable Player at least once, been named to an All-NBA (first, second or third) team twice, or been voted in as an All-Star starter twice.
This rule benefits both the player and the team for which he plays. The player is eligible to earn a higher salary two years earlier than he would have under the previous rules. The team benefits because it has a better chance to lock-in its franchise player to a full-length extension. In 2006 LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade all signed shorter extensions that allowed them to become free agents after just three seasons -- which coincided with their eligibility to receive the higher maximum salary. The result was the biggest NBA story of the 2010-11 season, with James and Bosh using their free agency to join Wade on the Miami Heat.
Durant meets the eligibility requirements for the Derrick Rose Rule, having been named to the All-NBA first team in 2010 and 2011 (he is also a two-time All-Star, but was voted in as the starter only once). However, it was unclear whether the league would allow the rule to be applied to a player who signed his extension under the previous collective bargaining agreement. The league decided last week that Durant does qualify, making him the first player so designated under the Derrick Rose Rule. He will receive the 30 percent maximum salary (30 percent of the salary cap), which is otherwise available only to players with seven to nine years in the league. His 2011-12 salary will be $15,506,632 and his five-year extension will total $89,163,135.
Had Durant not been granted the larger maximum salary, his 2010-11 earnings would have been $12,922,194 and his five-year extension would have totaled $74,302,616. By being granted the larger maximum, Durant earns an extra $2,584,438 this season and an extra $14,860,519 over the life of his extension -- quite a Christmas bonus.
As a result of this change, the Thunder are now over the salary cap.
Durant's status as the first player designated under this rule ensures that its namesake -- Rose -- will not be so designated. This seems to be the habit with the NBA. For instance, the 2005 amnesty provision nicknamed the "Allan Houston Provision" was not used on Houston, and the rule limiting restricted free-agent offer sheets for third-year players, nicknamed the "Gilbert Arenas Provision," did not apply to Arenas.
But with all due respect to Rose, perhaps we should break the trend and make the rule eponymous with the first player to whom it applied.
From now on, maybe this new rule should be known as the "Kevin Durant Rule."