NBA teams were operating under uncertainty entering the 2010-11 season. The Collective Bargaining Agreement was scheduled to expire the next summer, and there was no telling what terms the new deal would include.
Teams might have to drastically shed salary to get under a hard cap. Trade exceptions could expire during a lockout. Existing contracts could change.
Besides the usual risks that come with transactions, there were plenty of ways teams’ decisions could backfire simply via the upcoming negotiating process between the owners and players.
But it seemed the Thunder signing Kevin Durant to a five-year, maximum contract extension in 2010 couldn’t go wrong. In his third year, Durant had just made the All-NBA first team, and his future seemed bright. Durant capitalized on that momentum, making another All-NBA first team in 2010-11 as the NBA headed into the lockout.
Durant’s extension didn’t call for a set dollar amount. Rather, it just specified he’d make a maximum salary. That...