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Breaking Down Lillard’s All-NBA Selection & How the ‘Derrick Rose Rule’ Earned Him a Pay Raise

Saturday, May 28, 2016


On February 19th, Damian Lillard made a statement to the NBA. In the first contest back from the All-Star break, the Portland Trail Blazers’ floor general put the Golden State Warriors on alert by recording 51 points, seven assists and six steals (making 9-of-12 from the three-point line) in a 137-105 victory over the defending champions.

The snub that left him off the Western Conference All-Star roster looked ridiculous at the time, but now with his most recent achievement, announced Thursday, it looks downright deplorable.

The Association has officially released its annual All-NBA squads, and Lillard, a supposed non-All-Star, made the league’s Second Team. His co-stars on that roster consist of Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, DeMarcus Cousins and Chris Paul—not bad company.

Although showing the league he should have been an All-Star was clearly motivation to make one of the All-NBA units, there was an enormous fiscal incentive as well. According to The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski, Lillard is set to make an additional $12.72 million in his upcoming max contract as a direct result of his newest accolade. 

Why such a hefty bonus for making the All-NBA Second Team? Let us introduce you to the “Derrick Rose Rule.” 

The NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement has a segment where it formally refers to “5/30% contracts.” This is designed to allow players of the highest caliber coming off their rookie deals to earn 30 percent of their respective team’s salary over five years—a substantial jump from the traditional 25 percent max when you consider the money owners shell out to build contending rosters.

To qualify for this raise, a player must do one of three things before his extension officially kicks in:

•    Be voted as a starter in two All-Star games
•    Be named to an All-NBA Team twice 
•    Be named MVP


When this concept was first added to the CBA, Derrick Rose had just won MVP at the end of his rookie deal. He was the only player in the league eligible for the 5/30-percent max contract, hence: the “Derrick Rose Rule.”

By signing a provisional 5/30-percent contract extension last summer, Lillard knew that he needed the All-NBA nod (First, Second or Third Team). He’d been named to the league’s Third Team in 2013, and there was a far better chance of him earning another All-NBA bid than taking home the league’s most prestigious piece of individual hardware. (He’d never been named an All-Star starter during his first three seasons, so the first criterion was eliminated before the year began).

Had Lillard failed to meet the requirement, his max deal beginning in 2016-17 would have stayed at 25 percent, as was the case when James Harden failed to qualify for his extension in 2013, per ESPN.com’s Larry Coon. And more recently, as was the case for Anthony Davis. 

Per the Wojnarowski report linked above, Davis is missing out on $24.87 million over the lifetime of his new contract. Why is that number nearly twice as high as the money Lillard avoided losing? The answer is simple: negotiations. 

The Derrick Rose Rule allows a team to increase a player’s salary to 30 percent of the team’s cap, but it also states that the team can set the percentage anywhere between the standard 25 and the player-desired 30. In Davis’ case, his agent negotiated a higher potential “Derrick Rose” extension than Lillard’s; although, that means nothing now with Lillard set to make $136.48 million over the lifetime of his deal compared to the $123.76 million the New Orleans Pelicans’ star will earn.

The truth is that if we know anything about Lillard, the financial incentive to this whole situation was likely secondary behind stomping on the criticism of detractors. As much as an extra $12-plus million will mean to him and his family, the theme of this season was beating the odds and surpassing expectations.

Not to mention, the 25-year-old has a deal with Adidas worth over $100 million, plenty of sponsorships to supplement his max contract and a potential rap career in the making to top it all off.

As for the selection itself, the Second-Team honor was a no-brainer. Lillard wasn’t going to beat out Stephen Curry or Russell Westbrook on the First Team, but his spot ahead of Kyle Lowry and Klay Thompson (Third-Team members) was a mere formality after averaging 25.1 points, 6.8 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 0.9 steals while shooting 37.5 percent from behind the arc—not to mention leading the rebuilt, inexperienced Blazers to the fifth seed out West.

The beautiful thing about all of this? Portland should have little doubt that Lillard is still hungry. The Blazers have seen what happens in the past when unmotivated players find big money, but there should be no fear that Lillard will ever fall into that category.

As Lillard posted on his Instagram account after learning of his Second-Team recognition: #MoreWorkToBeDone. 

Earning Second-Team honors and activating the Derrick Rose Rule are big deals, but it’s what comes next that will continue to define the career of Portland’s franchise point guard.


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