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CBAMavs Corner: The 2022 NBA Draft and the Collective Bargaining Agreement

Some specifics which may help you understand how the draft impacts a team’s salary cap

2020 NBA Draft Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

The Mavericks don’t have a draft pick, but I wanted to use this occasion to explain some relevant NBA Draft info. I put together some collective bargaining agreement related tidbits that will make you a smarter NBA draft viewer.

Salaries for rookies

First-round pick

To sign a first-round pick does not require any cap space to sign. Their salary has a slot amount of money. You’re able to sign them for between 80%-120% of that slot. Basically, everyone gets the 120%. That’s what I’m using in the Cap Sheet I created. It’s a four year contract with year three and four being team options.

Second-round picks

To sign a second-round pick does require cap space OR an exception to sign them above the minimum salary OR to give them more than a two year contract. If you don’t have cap space or an exception you can use, then you can only offer a one or two year contract at the minimum salary. The minimum salary for 2022-23 is $953,000. A two year deal would look like this.

Undrafted Players

To sign an undrafted player, you have the same exact rules as second-round picks.

First-round picks are better to have than second-round picks.

If Jalen Brunson was a first-round pick, then when wouldn’t have been in the unrestricted free agent business right now. Extension rules and restricted free agency rules are different for first and second-round picks.

If Brunson had been a first round selection instead of a second round pick

  • Dallas would have been able to offer him an extension far richer than the 4/$55.6 million Brunson could have gotten. The Vet Extension the Mavericks could offer Brunson could only start out at $12.4 million for the 2022-23 season. This is because max Vet Extensions are based on your current contract’s final year’s salary. The Rookie Extensions for first rounders completing their rookie scale contracts can start up to the 25% (or 30% in special cases) max regardless of the what their rookie scale contract ends at! One slightly less positive thing about rookie extensions is that you have to sign them BEFORE your fourth season begins. In theory, the Mavericks and Brunson could have come together on a number that appeased both sides. Here’s another plus for rookie scale extensions, they DO NOT come with the same six month ban on trades. The trade math is hard but it is possible. That would be a separate CBAMavs corner article.
  • The bigger thing is that Brunson would be finishing his “rookie scale contract” and therefore would be eligible to be a Restricted Free Agent (RFA) like all the other unsigned 2018 first rounders if the Mavericks extended a Qualifying Offer (QO). If Brunson was about to be restricted our position to retain him would be stronger and likely result in a lower salary for him. When a player is restricted, like Deandre Ayton this summer, the team can match any offer sheet the player gets. The requirements for the team to offer sheets to players suppresses the market for most players. So having Brunson or any player be an RFA creates a very advantageous for the incumbent team.

Implications for the Mavericks?

  • If the Mavericks trade into the first round and don’t have a second-round pick, then it’s easy. No exception required to sign the rookie. The difficulty is that ALL first rounders have value. To acquire one would probably mean the Mavericks are making at least a medium sized move. Early second-round picks are valuable but mid to late seconds can be had at a low cost.
  • If the Mavericks end up with one or more second-round picks, then they would only be able to offer them minimum two year deals unless they use an exception. The Mavericks could use our Taxpayer MLE to give any second rounder up to a three year deals. The Taxpayer MLE, unlike the larger Full MLE, only goes up to those three years. While this WOULD give the Mavericks greater control over these players, it would take away their best tool to sign free agents this off-season. The $6.392 million MLE would reduce by whatever amount was used for the second rounder.
  • Using the exception to sign the second rounder longer than two years would be especially important in the 30s range of the second round. This is the area that is MOST likely to have rookies that could pan out. Having them under control for three years would keep their cost down and make it to where the Mavericks would have full bird rights on the pick.

TRADES during the draft

For a trade to be completed at the draft there are a couple things to know.

  • Draft rights and draft picks count 0 in trade math. So, it’s very easy to trade them for each other.
  • However, if you are trying to acquire a player using a draft pick you’ll need to include actual players for the trade math to work.
  • For an already signed player to be eligible to be traded on draft night that player must have a contract that goes through the 2022-23 season. So, an expiring contract like Brunson can’t be traded at the draft. Players whose contract could end due to an option can’t be traded either. Therefore, players with team or player options for the 2022-23 season (Like Ivica Zubac or Bobby Portis) cannot be traded unless their options are exercised. They can (like Trey Burke) agree to pick up the option prior to being traded.

When Adam Silver or Woj announce a trade or pick I hope you feel MORE confident in knowing the CBA implications for each team.