NBA awards could bring big money and conflict | John Smallwood

Gordon Hayward and Blake Griffin in Utah LA series
The Los Angeles Clippers' Blake Griffin (center) battles for position with Utah Jazz players Gordon Hayward (left) and Derrick Favors (right) in the first quarter in Game 2 of the NBA Western Conference quarterfinals at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Tuesday, April 18, 2017.

Like most leagues in professional sports, the National Basketball Association is going Hollywood with a new "awards" show.

Instead of announcing honors such as the Most Valuable Player, Defensive Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year at various points during the playoffs, the NBA will announce the winners during a made-for-television special broadcast on TNT on June 26.

The event will be in Manhattan and it’s sure to be a gala with lots of celebrities and overdressed players from the present and past.

But if you are Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward or Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin, the NBA award announcement you are most looking forward to might not happen that night.

The NBA still has the option to add the announcement of the three All-NBA teams to the show and it should, considering the added importance that honor has received because of the new collective bargaining agreement.

Neither Hayward nor Griffin is going to win the MVP or the DPOY, but both could be one of the 15 players selected for all-NBA. If either does, he will become eligible to join Golden State Warriors reigning MVP Stephan Curry as the first financial lottery winners of the new designated veteran player (DVP) extension agreement in the CBA.

Designed to give small-market teams a better chance at retaining star players they have developed, the rule allows them to designate two veteran players for six-year extensions instead of the normal five.

Other teams can offer only a maximum of four years, so the difference in money could be more than $100 million.

To become eligible, a player must be entering his eighth or ninth season with his original franchise or if he had been traded to his current team during the first four years of his career.

To qualify to be a DVP, the player must have been MVP in any of the three seasons preceding his extension. That’s going to get Curry somewhere around an extra $70 million for that sixth year.

Another way to qualify is to be named DPOY in the season preceding the extension or in two of the three seasons preceding the extension.

The final way, and this is what will apply to Hayward and Griffin, is to be named to one the three all-NBA teams in the season before the extension.

Hayward, 27, made his first all-star team and averaged 21.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists. Utah won 50 games for the first time in six seasons and is in the playoffs for the first time in four.

The Jazz hope Hayward is all-NBA because those two years of additional money might be the only way to keep him in Salt Lake City. Hayward has made around $57 million in his first seven seasons, and could make more than three times that if he re-signs with Utah.

Griffin, a five-time all-star who has made $96 million, is in a similar situation with the Clippers, who will want to keep him if they elect to continue down their current path.

This is one of those times when I’m glad I don’t have a vote for any of the NBA postseason awards.

In the past, when awards didn’t mean anything more than bragging rights, a panel of media members deciding which players won awards was not that big a deal.

Now, there is the potential for more than $100 million in contract money to be determined by a handful of ballots.

What if a media member has a strong like or dislike for a certain player? That media member could play a big part in deciding a player’s financial future or the monetary commitment a team must make to keep its own players.

The motivation for influence peddling by players, agents and management will increase.  It could certainly put a different spin on a team’s campaign to promote a player for MVP or DPOY or all-NBA.

It will be interesting to see how this new rule will come into play as teams start looking down the road to identify which of its players it might want to be eventual designated veterans.

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