CJ McCollum's extension with the Portland Trail Blazers will not be for a true maximum salary, Basketball Insiders' Eric Pincus relayed via Twitter this past Friday. Instead, McCollum will earn a fixed rate of $106 million over the duration of the extension.
If the contract had been a true maximum salary, then his compensation next year would have been calculated as slightly less than 25 percent of next season's estimated $102 million salary cap and resulted in total four-year wages in excess of the reported $106 million deal.
De-coupling McCollum's contract from the salary cap has helped to finalize the Blazers' 2017-18 salary obligations. The NBA players are likely to opt out of the league's Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) next summer, which will initiate a re-negotiation of the NBA's salary rules. It is possible, if not likely, that the players will "win" the negotiation and trigger an increase in next year's cap over the current $102 million estimate.
Since McCollum's non-maximum contract is defined by a set dollar amount rather than a percentage of the cap, it will not be affected by the league's CBA negotiations and any consequent cap re-calculations. If McCollum's extension had been defined as a true 25 percent maximum contract, then it would have risen in conjunction with the cap.
For the Blazers, locking McCollum in at a fixed rate rather than tying his compensation to the salary cap is a definite win. McCollum's extension caps a summer of heavy spending which has left the team perilously close to the luxury tax threshold for the foreseeable future. But since none of their players have salaries that will rise in proportion to the cap next summer, the Trail Blazers and owner Paul Allen will receive at least a modicum of luxury tax relief if the cap does rise.
McCollum, on the other hand, may have left some money on the table by agreeing to a less-than-max deal. If he repeats last season's performance that saw him average 20.8 points and 4.3 assists while earning the NBA's 2016 Most Improved Player award, he would have been a shoo-in for a maximum offer. Instead, he has opted to sacrifice that possibility in favor of locking in a nine-figure contract this summer. At the same time, a player could make worse decisions than guaranteeing a $100+ million payday.
As of now, McCollum's contract will be the tenth largest in the NBA for the 2017-18 season. McCollum's deal and teammate Allen Crabbe's four-year, $70+ million extension also represent the two largest contracts for members of the 2013 NBA draft class.