You may recall that one of the few NBA salary rules was changed in the 2016 collective agreement, which focused on the earning power of stars in their mid-thirties. We referred to this as the Chris Paul Rule, since CP3 was of most immediate use and he was the President of the Players' Union when it was negotiated and accepted.
More specifically, we should call this facet of the agreement the over-38 rule. In essence, it required some pre-existing pay limits to oblige high-end players aged 32 and over for long-term contracts, and increased that age threshold by a few years from 36 to 38. (Larry Coons invaluable CBA FAQ) a more detailed breakdown ).
CP3 happened to be 32 years old when the revised Rule 201
Not for nothing is Paul known as a skilled negotiator. Maybe too smart, as it turned out. And perhaps his interest in promoting the interests of himself and his 30-star friends has outstripped his role as a negotiator for the entire 450-member players' union.
Paul did not complete his five-year deal with LA, but he still benefited from the over-38 rule. CP3 informed the Clippers that he would terminate his contract in 2017 and sign with the Rockets if they did not agree to trade him to Houston. The Clippers signed up for the award of Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell, which was in retrospect a nice package for Los Angeles.
After a rousing playoff run in 2018, which ended a CP3 thigh injury after a championship, the Rockets concluded with Paul a four-year contract for $ 160 million. This deal was again possible due to the CP3 rule for over-38s. Without them, Paul would probably have signed a $ 115 million three-year contract to reach the maximum. The over-38 rule earned Chris Paul another $ 45 million, the same salary he'll earn as a 37-year-old in 2021-22.
On the one hand, things worked as intended. Paul got his money and the Rockets opened a spirited, if doomed, two-year window. The problem is that when Paul took all the money, he was more responsible on the Rocket's cover sheet.
Last week, the Rockets traded Paul and two first-round picks for Russell Westbrook against the Thunder. The former MVP claims one of the riskiest contracts in basketball, comparable only to the Supermax deal of John Wall. But Westbrook's deal was still extremely positive compared to Paul's.
In this way, the contract with the incriminating CP3 gets the obvious impact of age on his performance last season: The Rockets had to add several picks to quit while recapturing the third-heaviest contract in the league .
CP3 was paid. He got his guaranteed money, everything, the whole bag. But now, for the foreseeable future, he's in an (apparently) uncompetitive roster for Oklahoma City Thunder. The competitive outlook for one of the most competitive players of his generation looks bleak.
Honestly, this is reminiscent of Carmelo Anthony's slow descent into irrelevance. Finally, Melo slipped so far that he was paid to the Hawks and renounced. He collected massive checks in 2018-19, when he was completely eliminated from the NBA by Thanksgiving. It was a sad end to an illustrious career.
Is this the fate of Paul? If so, was it worth the extra $ 45 million? Probably. That's $ 45 million, for God's sake. And there is no guarantee that the rockets would have kept him if he had used the three-year version of the maximum.
Is the depreciation of CP3 relative to its contract a perfect example of why the over-36 rule ever existed-protecting teams from costly mistakes? Absolute!
Would CP3 and the union push for change again and know what they know now? Absolute! It's about making it possible for players to earn as much money as possible for as long as possible. This is basically the job of CP3 as President: to pay its members, including themselves.
But here it gets complicated. Here we ask for which members CP3 has worked.
The $ 45 million that Paul made available in the years 2021-22, perhaps to chill out in Barbados or to play the string in a middle team, or as a competitor's ring-fencer, is $ 45 million that are not spent on medium or young players.
Any effort under Chris Paul's union leadership to bolster the contracts of top-line players – notably the Supermax contract and the Over-38 rule – robs the NBA middle class of money.
NBA salaries are higher than ever. But the average NBA player could get an even bigger collective segment if the recent changes in the negotiations did not prioritize the stars in general and CP3 in particular.
We have not heard too much grumbling from these midsize players when the news of the end came -38 rule came out. If we look at how the union president earns $ 40 million in annual salaries until the early '30s, we'll see if that changes.