Howard Passing on Extension Worth Risk?
1. Injury risk
A four- or five-year contract could vanish if either player sustains a career-ending injury before becoming a free agent. Is this likely? Not necessarily — (Dwight) Howard is coming off back surgery, but his surgeon said he should be fine even if he proves to be not quite ready by the time the season starts.
(Andrew) Bynum has a history of knee problems, but some of those injuries were flukes (like when Kobe Bryant rolled into his knee), and he completed the 2011-12 season without any issues. Players risk injury every time they take the floor, but career-altering or career-ending injuries are rare.
2. Maximum salaries
There are three tiers, which are based on the number of years the player has been in the league. A player with 10 or more years in the league has a higher maximum salary than a player with seven to nine years, who in turn has a higher maximum than a player with fewer than seven years. The maximum salaries change each year in conjunction with the salary cap. For example, this year the maximum for a player with zero to six years is $13,688,750; for a player with seven to nine years is $16,402,500; and for a player with 10 or more years is $19,136,250.
A player can always receive up to 105 percent of his previous salary in a new contract, even if that amount is above the league-wide maximum. Howard is on the books for $19,536,360 in 2012-13, and is slated to become a free agent next summer, when he will have nine years under his belt. This means that his 2013-14 salary can be up to $20,513,178 if he signs as a free agent.