The DPE, or designated player exception is big deal. It’s also a controversial inclusion in the new CBA. These are the criteria that qualify a player for the DPE:
1. He makes one of the three all-NBA teams or is named either defensive player of the year or most valuable player the previous season.2. He has made one of the three all-NBA teams or has been named defensive player of the year in two of the prior three seasons or the league’s most valuable player in one of the three prior seasons.
What makes this great is players who have propelled themselves to elite status a few years into their NBA career can get paid as a top player. Before, a player would have to play into their tenth season in order to qualify for a 35% of the cap payday. That was kind of ridiculous because players are typically 30 years old or older when they qualified for a max payday. Thirty years old is usually when players start to decline. The DPE allows for teams to pay superstar players top dollar if they meet one of those two qualifications above.
What makes this a little controversial is that the media votes on the accolades needed to qualify. It’s probably not a good idea to give the media control over whether or not a player gets a huge payday. The MVP award isn’t a big deal in this conversation because the runner up will likely be All-NBA 1st team anyways. The DPOY award may be a little more interesting because a DPOY candidate isn’t a lock for All-NBA. In the last 17 seasons, the DPOY was not an All-NBA player 5 times. So, being a runner up and not making the All-NBA teams is going to be a tough place to be.
Making the All-NBA teams
The All-NBA teams are going to be a big deal. With only 15 selection every season it’s not an easy list to crack. Since the 2000 awards, there have been 255 selections to All-NBA first, second and third teams. In those 255 selections, there have been 79 unique players selected. Of those 79 unique players, 48 of them have made one of the three All-NBA teams more than once.
Roughly estimating 15 players per team over that span, I can estimate that there have been about 7,650 players in that time. I know it’s more than that, but even with that number only 0. 627% of those players qualified for the DPE based on All-NBA criteria. Perennial greats like LeBron James, and Dirk Nowitzki can eat up two of those 15 available spots for the better part of a decade.
There’s a lot of players that are right on the fringe of making the All-NBA third team. Al Horford is a good example of a player that was really close to being on multiple All-NBA teams. Horford is a four-time All-Star, but only has one All-NBA appearance. He made All-NBA third team in 2011.
There are other criteria that must be met as well
A player qualifies for the DPE, which can be used to give a player a contract extension or to sign him as a free agent,And this crucial stipulation: He has to be on the team that drafted him or has to have been traded on his rookie deal to another team.
That means players like Stephen Curry, DeMarcus Cousins, Russell Westbrook, John Wall and Gordon Hayward are eligible for this exception, while Kevin Durant is not.
Durant may not be eligible, but that doesn’t really matter for him because he is in his tenth season. So, he can sign for a max next summer regardless. This will make Golden State’s offseason next summer a lot more interesting. If Durant opts out of his player option, and both Durant and Curry sign max deals, that will put the Warriors at the cap with just four player’s salaries accounted for.
It’s going to be hard to qualify for the DPE
It takes a special player to come into the league and and make an All-NBA team. The average age of an All-NBA player since the 99-00 season is 26. 89 years old. In fact, only 18% of players selected to All-NBA teams were younger than 24 years old. That 18% represents 46 of 255 selections, but only 29 players represent those 46 selections. So, in 17 years there have been 29 players that would have qualified to sign a max DPE while still under, or just finishing their rookie contracts.
How does this impact the Celtics?
Not much happening in house
The chances of Smart, Rozier, Brown, Mickey, or Olynyk making an All-NBA team are fairly slim. The chance of Crowder or Bradley getting Defensive Player of the Year honors are not quite as slim. Both Crowder and Bradley were decent considerations going into this season, but Crowder has not been playing defense on a high level this season. Bradley has been very good, but he might not put up enough defensive statistics to warrant the award. Bradley is on the radar though, after earning NBA All-Defensive First Team honors last season.
Isaiah Thomas, on the other hand, is making a case for himself as an All-NBA player this season. Now, the Celtics can’t offer him an extension because he wasn’t drafted by Boston. Thomas can earn a DPE by making an All- NBA team in 2018, or both 2017 and 2018. I’m sure Thomas would be happy to sign a full DPE, but I’m not sure he would be offered a full 35% of the cap. But, that offer would have to be made in free agency once he finishes out his current contract in 2018.
It could be a factor next summer with free agency
Steph Curry really benefits from the DPE. The Warriors ability to sign both Curry and Durant to long term deal did not benefit. Next year’s cap is projected to be around $104 million. Both Durant and Curry now qualify for contracts of 35% of the cap. So, if the Warriors want to use 70% of their cap on Durant and Curry they can. I am pretty sure every team in the league would be happy doing that, but that is going to take all flexibility away from Golden State. They will have $106. 8 million tied up in Durant, Curry, Green, and Thompson for the 2017-2018 season in that scenario.
Boston, on the other hand, can managed to sign Durant to a max deal, and actually field a team around him. That’s really a discussion that isn’t worth visiting at this time, but it’s an example of how this impacts the NBA’s future.
Outside of Curry and Durant, I’m not sure there is a player that is worthy of a 35% of the cap contract. If the Jazz’s potential free agent Gordon Hayward manages to crack the All-NBA team this season, he would be eligible for the DPE. I don’t quite value him that high, but some team might.
The impact of the DPE has future implications for the Celtics
Every team wants a player that is deserving of max money, especially when they are young. Boston still has a couple Brooklyn picks coming their way. If one of those picks turns into an All-NBA player a couple years after they enter the NBA, then the Celtics would have a great chance at keeping them around for a long time. Even the Nets pick from this past summer could make a leap.
Jaylen Brown doesn’t have any All-NBA considerations coming this season. But, he has shown some elite skills that could help him progress into an elite talent. Currently his rookie season is very similar to Paul George’s rookie season. Statistically, per 36, they are almost identical. We’re still a ways away from that, but it’s not that far fetched.
It’s probably going to be difficult for GM’s to give out a DPE to a 22 year old third year player. Players that make that decision easy for GM’s don’t come around very often. The DPE will reshape the NBA, and it will be very challenging to put together any sort of super team going forward. This should benefit the league as a whole, but it will make managing the cap a lot more difficult.