Know your CBA: Kyrie Irving unlikely to leave Cleveland soon

kyrie edit

Kyrie Irving may indeed privately wish to set sail from the shores of Lake Erie for supposedly greener pastures, but before freaking out about it you should get to know why the CBA makes that extremely impractical and unlikely for him to do.

Irving is in the midst of the third year of his rookie deal. The way first round picks currently work under the CBA is that they are offered two-year guaranteed deals and the teams have separate options for the third and fourth years, along with a deadline to pick up those options.  With Irving, and really most rookies, those options are no-brainers for teams.

Rookie deals are the most valuable contracts in the NBA currently due to the fact that there is almost no negotiating room for the player and his salary is determined solely by the position he is drafted in: the higher the pick, the higher the salary. Thus, players on rookie deals often over-perform their pay grade. In the case of players like Irving, they outperform it by a wide margin. Even if fans are disillusioned with his supposed lack of leadership and the fact that he hasn’t won a whole of lot of basketball games, on an open market Kyrie would be making almost triple his current $5.6 million salary.

Players on their rookie deals are eligible for contract extensions from their current team in the summer following their third season, which is what Irving is currently headed toward. The maximum length of an extension is four years with one exception, the “Designated Player” rule. This rule allows teams to select one player on a rookie deal for a five-year extension. Oklahoma City used this rule to give Kevin Durant five years while only being able to offer Russell Westbrook four. David Kahn, the former GM of the Timberwolves, famously decided to save Minnesota’s “Designated Player” slot for Ricky Rubio and in the process upset Kevin Love, causing him to push for a player option for the fourth year of his deal which will allow him to bolt Minnesota early if he so desires.

The contract offered to Irving this summer will in all likelihood be the largest the Cavs can offer within the CBA. That is for five years and somewhere around $80 million. The yearly salary is derived from 25% of the salary cap. Irving is also potentially eligible for the “Derrick Rose” rule due to his selection as a starter in this year’s All-Star game. The “Derrick Rose” rule allows “Designated Players” to instead earn 30% of the salary cap if they meet any of the following criteria before the start of their new contract: win a MVP, be selected to start in two All-Star games or be named to an All-NBA team twice.

If Irving is voted in as starter again in 2015, then he will be eligible for this pay raise assuming he signs the extension. James Harden was eligible for this raise, but failed to meet the requirements; the first year of his “Designated Player” deal was worth $13,668,750. Paul George is going to enter the first year of his “Designated Player” deal next season and, seeing as he is probably going to make his second All-NBA Team, will meet the requirements raising his pay to $15,800,000 in the first year of the deal.

But What if Kyrie Doesn’t Sign the Extension?

If Kyrie fails to sign any offer put forth by the Cavaliers by October 31, 2014, then Kyrie will not only be the first player to turn down the “Designated Player” contract, but he will have already cost himself a decent amount of money. If a player on his first contract enters the summer following his fourth season without an extension then the team can either rescind his rights (not happening) or offer him a Qualifying Offer, which is a one-year deal valued at 125% of the player’s previous season salary. Irving’s Qualifying Offer would be around $9 million.

The player then can accept the offer (which almost never happens), and become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the one-year deal, or decline it, at which time he becomes a restricted free agent. Once the player becomes a restricted free agent, his current team has three days to match any offer sheet signed by the player from another team. Thus, players in restricted free agency are ultimately still controlled by their current team.

Irving cannot make as much money in restricted free agency as he could by accepting the “Designated Player” contract. Not only that, but it doesn’t give him any control of where he plays. If he’s going to turn down an extension, it’s hard to see him not opting to take the Qualifying Offer and in doing so becoming the first player to turn down a mega-contract coming off their rookie deal in an effort to enter free agency early. Seeing as Irving is likely to qualify for the “Derrick Rose” rule mentioned earlier the difference between the money he’d make under the Qualifying Offer and an extension with the Cavaliers in the 2015-2016 season alone is around $7 million. Not to mention the fact that Irving can only get a four-year deal in free agency where as he can get a five-year deal with the Cavs.

Following the blowout loss to the Knicks on TNT, Irving was quoted as saying:

“Do I privately want out when my contract is up?’ I’m still in my rookie contract and I’m happy to be here. And I’m pretty sure I’m going to be here for a long time. I’m not saying anything to tell the future, but I’m pretty sure the relationship I have with Dan Gilbert and management extends off the court. I enjoy being here.”

The fact that he mentioned he’s still on his rookie contract in a response to him wanting to be here implies an understanding from Kyrie that even if he did want out of Cleveland, it would cost him risking way too much money to do so and ultimately the notion is impractical. In all probability he will be plying his basketball trade in Cleveland for the next five or six years. It’s up to Gilbert to convince him to stay beyond that.

Photo: Scott Sargent/WFNY

  • Never say never in cleveland

  • The_Real_Shamrock


  • Also, everyone welcome Joe to the WFNY staff. Joe is our newest writer and will be bringing us plenty of great Cavs coverage.

  • Chief Blahoo

    Fire Mike Brown already. Everything is moot if we keep a terrible head coach.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Welcome to the party Joe did you bring da chips? 😉

  • CLE23

    What a hack job. Only here would writers and commentors alike assume stuff about a 2 time Olympian, 2 time All-Star, FHOF, soon to be world champion hoop star. Get with it people. You got served!

  • CLE23

    this is the best article I have read on WFNY. Congrats to the new writer. the real CLE23 looks forward to reading more from Joe Mastrantoni

  • CLE23

    attack of the clones. CLE23 is amused

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Only way this happens is if Grant probably loses his job and I can’t see both happening.

  • CLE23

    Please write an article about how we can connect all of the bad cavs moves back to Danny Ferry. CLE23 does this all the time. The current Kyrie story is connected as follows

    When Dan Gilbert bought the Cavs he did what any other new small market owner should have done, that is, try to emulate the San Antonio Spurs. He hired Danny Ferry, then an executive with the Spurs, to become General Manager. Danny Ferry then hired a former Spurs assistant coach Mike Brown, then an assistant coach with the Pacers.

    Ferry has the best player on earth on the cavs yet signs big name free agents damon jones and larry hughes.
    Ferry then spends the next 3 years trying to do everything he can to make up for those moves.
    Mike Brown has an inflated sense of accomplishment as Lebron and Co keep winning everything but a title.

    In anticipation of Lebron leaving, Dan Gilbert lets Danny Ferry walk and fires Mike Brown.
    After Lebron leaves, Gilbert regrets how he handled the situation with Coach Brown.
    Coach Brown goes to the lakers and has kobe, nash, dwight howard, et all and cannot win a single playoff game.
    He is fired and Dan Gilbert tries to clear his mind by hiring Mike Brown again.

    in the meantime, the cavs go into the lottery 3 straight years and Danny Ferry protégé Chris Grant drafts Kyrie, Tristan, Dion, and Anthony Bennett.
    The expectations are high as there is a lot of talent on the Cavs.

    Now that they are losing, and playing poorly, it is clear that Mike Brown cannot coach.
    Gilbert should have never re-hired the guy who he fired in the first place.
    And he should have never hired the guy who hired Mike Brown, that is Danny Ferry, in the first place.

    Maybe a different GM in 2007 hires a better coach, signs better free agents, and lebron stays. after all, he was building a 50,000 palace here. seems like back then he wanted to stay here.
    and with better free agents in 2007, and a better coach in 2007, maybe the cavs are on their 2nd three-peat.
    and kyrie signs with the raptors, or whoever. either way, we wouldnt have to worry about it so we wouldnt care.

    the ripple effects of danny ferry are still felt today

    CLE23 looks forward to reading your articles

  • boomhauertjs

    Danny Ferry cost this franchise championships in 4 different decades (80’s, 90’s, 00’s, and 10’s).

  • CLE23

    LOL…well said boom!!!

  • Cynic

    Gilbert hired Brown before Ferry … I generally like Dan Gilbert, but I just don’t understand his torrid love affair with Mike Brown. (BTW, I do generally agree with the position that Danny Ferry was a central figure in preventing the last two good collection of cavs teams from reaching their potential.) fricking danny ferry.

  • Mike Brown only coached Dwight Howard and Steve Nash for 5 games. The previous year, before he had Howard and Nash, the Lakers won their first series before losing in the 2nd round to eventual Western Conference champion Oklahoma City Thunder.

  • CLE23

    thanks for the corrections Andrew. They have been incorporated into my post. CLE23 does not mind when others point out mistakes made in his posts.

  • CLE23


    for what it’s worth, on the Wikipedia page for mike brown, it says “On April 24, 2013, Mike Brown was inexplicably rehired by the Cavaliers, replacing Byron Scott.”

    and it has a reference. gotta love the web.

  • Lunch

    I couldn’t find a droopy clip where he just says “hello, Joe”. Nonetheless, enjoy.

  • Lunch

    The Cavs will make changes to their roster first before they make another coaching change.

  • mgbode

    and a good way to start it by outlining why the Kyrie talk is silly.

  • Totally.

  • mgbode

    Welcome to the fray Joe. I sincerely hope that over your tenure of covering the Cavs for WFNY that the team can put forth a better product than we have been subjected to over the past several seasons. I am sure it would make your job more fun (though perhaps not easier).

    Regardless, I look forward to your thoughts and coverage on our favorite basketball team. Thanks for putting in the time and effort.

  • Kildawg

    Hopefully the new commissioner will play less favorites (Stern was all about the money and big market teams), which Mr. Gilbert has made a point of and all the rumors of Irving to the Knicks . The SuperSonics need to return as an expansion team, but which other city gets a team? Vancouver again?

  • EyesAbove

    He’s definitely off to a good start, this was a solid article.

  • Kildawg

    Is there going to be someone with more Columbus Blue Jackets coverage? They are currently a playoff team and having a solid season. More palatable to watch/listen to than the Cavs as of late.

  • mgbode

    I don’t think the NBA wants to expand teams (national TV money will be the same, so, less overall money per owner and more diluted overall product on the court).

    However, if they did add 2 teams, then I would imagine St.Louis would be the city to get a team.

  • Lee Nicholas

    Thank you thank you thank you for being a voice of reason and sanity.

  • Kardiac Kid

    Nobody in CLE cares about hockey, Kildawg. I’d log on to the Dispatch if I were you …

  • WayneEmbrysKids

    Nice work Joe.

  • Joseph Mastrantoni


  • Joseph Mastrantoni

    It’ll be fascinating to see how Ferry does in Atlanta. So far he’s doing quite well.

  • Joseph Mastrantoni

    Haha, thank you.

  • Joseph Mastrantoni

    Welcome. Thanks for reading.

  • Joseph Mastrantoni

    Thanks duder.

  • The_Real_Shamrock
  • The_Real_Shamrock
  • Chief Blahoo

    Which is such a waste, because there is no evidence that Mike Brown is a good coach. The only reason cited in his defense is his record with Lebron, but he’s so good that anyone would have a great record coaching Lebron.

  • Joseph Mastrantoni

    Thanks. Yeah, it isn’t any fun to watch this team right now, but it is fairly interesting to cover them. I’d rather they be fun.

  • Lunch

    So it was LeBron James that coached the rest of the Cavs to play defense and not Mike Brown? Please explain.