The most important tool in team-building in the NBA is the draft. As a result of that, the most important facet of competitive balance in the NBA is allowing low-revenue teams who draft well to keep their talent. This was a spoken aim of the NBA lockout: the league wanted a system where the ability of players like Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James to leave the teams that drafted them was more difficult. Players understandably don't like restrictions on their ability to decide where to work; you may recall something called Oscar Robertson vs. the NBA that dealt with this, oh, four decades ago. So the NBA has (over the last decade and change) an incentive system. Stars are given incentives to stay with the teams that draft them.
Those incentives have gotten stronger in this new NBA deal.
For the Sacramento Kings, that means that -- supposing he becomes everything that we think he'll be -- Tyreke Evans should remain in town for a long, long time.
In the old collective bargaining agreement, teams could sign their stars to an early extension after Year 3. The extension could be for up to five years, and would kick in after Year 4. The new CBA shrinks those early extensions to four years.
Teams can, however, select a "designated player" to receive a five-year extension; teams can only have one such player on their roster at any time.
The best young players typically do a couple things with that second contract to preserve their options. Some, like LeBron, in the past signed only four-year extensions instead of the max five. On top of that, they would include a player option on the final year. For LeBron, that allowed him to hit free agency after three years on his second contract (or after seven years in the NBA). Since then, players have largely eschewed the mini-max; Dwight Howard included the player option, but went a full five years on the extension. (The player option can only be in the final year of a deal.) Chris Paul and Deron Williams did sign mini-max deals, but Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge and Kevin Durant have all opted for the longest possible terms. Derrick Rose, Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook are up this offseason.
Assuming Evans has a strong season, expect the Kings to offer the designated player contract -- a five-year extension worth roughly $77 million. Assume the worst*: he instead signs a mini-max worth $61 million over four years with an opt-out after Year 3. At that point, should he opt out in 2016, the Kings can offer a five-year deal with 7.5 percent annual raises; other teams can offer four years with 4.5 percent raises.
The Kings could still lose him. This deal didn't really save small market teams, it just helped them a bit. The key, of course, will be developing the roster around Evans and DeMarcus Cousins, creating a true contender. The Tyreke part? That's easy. We should have him for at least five more seasons. We will keep this star for the foreseeable future.
* If Evans rejects a designated player contract to take a four-year deal, DeMarcus Cousins would then be eligible for the DP extension.