The NBA has released its All-NBA teams, which means more in 2017 than it has in past seasons. In an attempt to allow smaller market teams to keep their free agents, the league has stipulated that an All-NBA selection would make a player eligible for a “super max” contract.
Had these rules been in place a year ago, Kevin Durant likely would have stayed in Oklahoma City. As it stands, a super max contract can pay a player in the neighborhood of $200 million. Playing in Oklahoma with Russell Westbrook could not have been that bad for Durant, right?
There were no surprises on the NBA’s first team. LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis and Westbrook were all honored, and James Harden was a unanimous choice.
The third team is where it gets tricky. Since Jimmy Butler–and not Paul George or Gordon Hayward–was the small forward of choice, the two players are not eligible for the super max. Butler, on the other hand, is. The question remains whether or not the Bulls will pony up a king’s ransom to retain Butler, but the Indiana Pacers and Utah Jazz, respectively, are in a tougher spot.
George has made his affinity known for the Los Angeles Lakers, and Hayward has often been linked to his former college coach, Brad Stevens, in Boston. According to ESPN, George would have been able to sign a deal in the amount of 5-years, $210 million. To leave the Pacers to join the Lakers, George would have been leaving about $75 million on the table.
Now, all bets are off.
Hayward will likely become a free agent on July 1, when he will field offers from other teams. His teammate, Rudy Gobert, was chosen as a second-team All-NBA center. The exclusion of his teammate, however, could set the Jazz back significantly in the future. "I don't want to see him leave because he's a big part of what we've been building. We've been through a lot,” Gobert said. “I'm excited about the team we became and the team we'll become."
The All-NBA teams have now become a critical aspect of free agency. For those teams hoping to retain their star players, they better hope they’re one of the 15 players included on the All-NBA teams.