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How the Tyler Herro and Jordan Poole extensions impact Tyrese Maxey’s market

Tyler Herro and Jordan Poole’s new extensions could help set a baseline for the Sixers’ future contract negotiations with Tyrese Maxey.

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Philadelphia 76ers v Miami Heat - Game Five Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Tyrese Maxey is still a year away from becoming eligible to sign an extension, but two recent deals could help set a floor for those eventual negotiations.

In early October, the Miami Heat signed Tyler Herro to a four-year extension with $120 million guaranteed and an additional $10 million in unlikely-to-be-earned incentives. Based on the current $134 million salary-cap projection for the 2023-24 season, a four-year max deal for Herro would have been roughly $150.1 million, so he took around $30 million less than his full max.

Herro is fresh off a season in which he won the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award after averaging a career-high 20.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.7 triples while shooting 44.7 percent overall and 39.9 percent from deep. Although he came off the bench for Miami in all but 10 regular-season games, he was tied with Bam Adebayo for the third-most minutes per game on the team, trailing only Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry. He’s now expected to start alongside Lowry this year.

On Saturday, the Golden State Warriors signed Jordan Poole to a four-year deal with $123 million guaranteed and an extra $17 million in both likely- and unlikely-to-be-earned incentives, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Poole’s max is the same as Herro’s ($150.1 million), but if he reaches all of the incentives in his contract, he’ll be only around $10 million below that.

Poole started in place of the injured Klay Thompson for most of last season, and he averaged a career-high 18.5 points, 4.0 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 2.8 triples in only 30.0 minutes per game during the regular season. He was a key piece to the Warriors’ run to last year’s NBA championship, having averaged 17.0 points while shooting 50.8 percent overall and 39.1 percent from deep during the playoffs.

Maxey was better than either Herro or Poole during their respective second seasons, though. He slid into the starting lineup to replace Ben Simmons and thrived, erupting for 17.5 points, 4.3 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 1.8 triples while shooting 48.5 percent overall and a sizzling 42.7 percent from deep. He shot an outrageous 52.3 percent overall and 48.0 percent from long range following James Harden’s arrival at the trade deadline in February.

If the preseason is any indication, Maxey may be ready to take another leap this year.

“This training camp was huge for me because this was my first year coming into camp knowing exactly what my role was on the team,” Maxey recently told reporters. “My first year, I was a rookie, didn’t know what to expect. My second year, we had a lot going on and I got thrown into a starting role. I always said I’ll be ready for whatever Coach Doc [Rivers] throws at me, but this third year, I know exactly what my role is and I know exactly how to help my team win. I feel confident because of the work that I’ve put in, so I’m confident in myself. And then I’m confident in my teammates, and they’re confident in me.”

If Maxey does cement himself as the Sixers’ third star this year, that should simplify his extension negotiations next summer. The Sixers should hand him a five-year max contract—ideally without a player option—and not think twice about it.

Even if Maxey doesn’t quite rise to the level of a no-brainer max like Ja Morant or Darius Garland, the Sixers might have to consider offering one to him anyway.

The NBA’s current nine-year, $24 billion national TV contracts with Disney and Warner Media Discovery are set to end after the 2024-25 season. In March 2021, Jabari Young reported for CNBC that the league was planning to “seek a $75 billion rights package,” which would be more than triple the value of its current TV deal.

Even if the NBA falls short of that lofty goal, an expert in media rights told Forbes last year that the next round of TV contracts could double in value, “thanks in part to a substantial boost in streamed content.” That could send the salary cap soaring in 2025-26 and beyond.

Revenue from the national TV contracts goes into the pool of basketball-related income that determines the salary cap each year. When the league agreed to its current deals—which were nearly a three-fold increase over the previous ones—that set the stage for a potentially historic salary-cap spike in 2016-17.

The NBA tried to convince the National Basketball Players Association to accept a cap-smoothing proposal that would have artificially lowered the salary cap while still paying the players the 51 percent of BRI to which they were entitled. The NBPA rejected that proposal, which caused the cap to jump from $70 million in 2015-16 to $94 million the following year. That historic spike gave the Warriors enough salary-cap space to sign Kevin Durant in free agency that summer, which helped to turn them into a dynasty.

It’s unclear whether the results of the 2016-17 cap jump will make the NBPA more amenable to cap-smoothing this time around. If not, a league source estimated to Forbes Sports’ Morten Jensen last year that a $171 million salary cap “is possible” in 2025-26. With the cap already projected to jump to $134 million in 2023-24 and likely in the mid-to-high $140-million range in 2024-25, that could be another $20-plus-million spike.

As a rough estimate, let’s say the 2024-25 salary cap gets set at $145 million. A five-year max for Maxey would begin at $36.25 million and top out at $210.3 million. If the Sixers gave him a Rose Rule max, which would allow him to earn 30 percent of the cap by making an All-NBA team or being named MVP or Defensive Player of the year, his starting salary would be $43.5 million and the five-year max total would be $252.3 million.

If Maxey took the five-year max extension next summer and didn’t meet the Rose Rule criteria, his salary in 2025-26 would be $39.2 million. That would be less than 23 percent of a $171 million salary cap, or a lower percentage than the 25 percent he earned in 2024-25. Depending on how much the cap rose each year from there, he might stay below the 25 percent mark throughout the remainder of his rookie-scale extension.

To be clear: All of these are very rough estimates. We can only hope that the Sixers have more clarity about future salary-cap projections by the time they begin negotiating Maxey’s extension next summer. The NBA and NBPA are currently working on the next collective bargaining agreement, so they’ll hopefully address cap-smoothing and the salary-cap outlook in 2025-26 and beyond as part of that process.

Considering the likelihood of a steep cap jump in the latter half of this decade, though, Maxey would be justified in asking for a full max next summer. Otherwise, he could threaten to take a shorter-term extension to test free agency in the post-TV-deal cap environment sooner.

In that scenario, he might prefer to sign a two-year deal with a third-year player option or a three-year deal with a fourth-year player option. Either would allow him to become a free agent when he has seven years of NBA experience, thus making him eligible to sign a deal starting at 30 percent of the cap.

Given Maxey’s importance to the Sixers’ long-term trajectory, they can’t afford to mess around and attempt to lowball him next summer. While Herro and Poole didn’t get a five-year max from their teams, the threat of a shorter-term extension could help Maxey secure the biggest bag possible.

Unless otherwise noted, all stats via, PBPStats, Cleaning the Glass or Basketball Reference. All salary information via Spotrac or RealGM.

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