Players eligible for rookie-scale extensions, including San Antonio Spurs guard Derrick White, are looking for injury insurance when the season resumes.
Earlier in the day, we discussed how San Antonio Spurs forward Rudy Gay was present in Kyrie Irving’s emotional call with roughly 80 NBA and WNBA players rallying against the league’s plan to resume in Orlando. More details about player’s concerns have since come out, now bringing combo guard Derrick White into the mix by a degree of separation.
Though there’s been no confirmation about which other Spurs players took part in the conference call, it’s clear that the 2017 NBA Draft Class is ready to take a stand. These players are set to become eligible for rookie-scale extensions in the offseason and after three months away from the game, they’re nervous that those payouts could be taken from them in an instant.
As reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, five players—Bam Adebayo, De’Aaron Fox, Jayson Tatum, Donovan Mitchell and Kyle Kuzma—from the class spoke with NBA consultants about league-finances insurance policies in the case that they suffer serious injuries that impact their looming extensions. Of the players impacted by this, Spurs fan favorite Derrick White meets the criteria as the eighth-best player of the class according to both Value Over Replacement Player (VORP) and Box Plus/Minus.
San Antonio is going to at least talk to White and his representatives about an extension this summer since he’s one of the best young two-way players in the sport. His presence has been crucial to the team for the last two seasons and he’s taken each new challenge in stride. There’s really no denying that he deserves an extension, but the league needs to take steps to resume the season before we can even get to that.
If the NBA season does not resume, there’s reason to believe that they’ll need an entirely new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that changes the finances and guidelines for how the league should proceed. With the stakes that high, there’s no chance that we’ll see extension negotiations going on just yet.
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Teams could also be given the choice to extend their rookies on these scaled deals during the week-long transaction window that’s been proposed as a measure to proceed with the league’s 8-game regular season in Orlando. This would be a nice compromise so that the players who deserve those extensions can ensure their long-term financial futures before even stepping foot on the court.
An insurance policy for a player’s health based on concerns of these sorts is unprecedented—especially at this level of the sport. However, nothing is what it seems now that we live in a post-coronavirus world and the players need to ensure that it’s worth it for them to resume the season.
For Spurs big man LaMarcus Aldridge, whose contract only has one year left on it, opting for season-ending surgery instead of playing through the injury as he did in the final game before the hiatus against the Dallas Mavericks may have been his own insurance policy of sorts.
Players need to proceed with care more than ever and White’s peers from the 2017 class might be doing him a big favor by speaking up for themselves.