The most lucrative contract deals that centers Andrew Bynum, top, and Dwight… (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)
However the next year unfolds for Dwight Howard, the All-Star center won’t have to spend much time at the 99-cent store.
But he could be passing up big bucks in several scenarios.
According to Larry Coon, an independent NBA salary cap expert and IT director at UC Irvine who crunched the numbers, the most lucrative decision would be for Howard to re-sign with the team he is playing for at the end of next season.
In that instance, Howard could sign a five-year maximum deal worth $116.8 million that included annual raises of 7.5%. If Howard departed for another team, he could sign for only four years and $86.7 million, receiving raises of 4.5% each year.
The $30-million discrepancy might be the primary reason suitors such as the Lakers would be willing to acquire Howard without preliminary assurances that he would sign an extension.
“We were fully confident if we ever made a move to get Dwight Howard that he would re-sign with us,” Jim Buss, the Lakers’ executive vice president of player personnel, told NBA TV on Thursday.
If Howard opted to re-sign with his team during next season, he would receive at most a three-year extension for $65.5 million. Assuming he was no longer playing for Orlando, he could not sign the extension until six months after being traded by the Magic.
The least rewarding possibility for Howard would involve an extend-and-trade situation, in which Orlando could add only two more years to his current contract (which calls for him to make $19.3 million next season) for a maximum of $41.5 million over the extension before sending him to a new team.
The scenarios play out similarly for the Lakers’ Andrew Bynum, who is slated to make $16.1 million next season in the final year of his contract. Bynum would make the most money by waiting until the end of next season to re-sign with his team.
[Updated at 7:42 p.m. July 20: According to Coon’s calculations, if Bynum signed a maximum, five-year contract with his current team at the end of the 2012-13 season, he could make up to $101.9 million over the life of the deal. If Bynum signed with a new team at that point, those figures would drop to four years and a maximum of $75.7 million over the life of the contract, factoring in 4.5% annual raises.
If Bynum was traded by the Lakers and signed a new extension with his team at some point next season, he could get only three years and $57.1 million after waiting six months following the trade. And if he was part of an extend-and-trade deal involving the Lakers and one or more teams in which he was sent elsewhere, he could at most get an additional two years and $36.2 million on his current contract, which expires at the end of next season.]
Buss made it sound like no deals were imminent during his interview with NBA TV.
“As far as trading,” Buss said, “it’s a lot quieter than people think.”
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