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Lucrative One-Year NBA Deals Increasingly Rare

Two years ago, Chris Kaman signed a one-year, $8MM contract with the Mavs. No NBA player has approached that kind of money on a one-year deal since. Teams and players seem to have a growing reluctance to do one-year deals for more than the minimum. This summer, there have only been four new one-year deals exceeding $1,448,490, the amount of the 10-year veteran’s minimum, as our Free Agent Tracker shows. Last year, there were six such contracts, as I noted then, and in 2012, Kaman was among a group of eight.

The most lucrative of this summer’s one-year deals carries an asterisk of sorts, since it was Kevin Seraphin‘s qualifying offer from the Wizards. That means the team and the player didn’t negotiate their one-year deal as much as they simply wound up with it as a result of the mechanics of restricted free agency. That scenario might be repeated again this summer if any one of Eric Bledsoe, Greg Monroe and Aron Baynes, the restricted free agents who remain on the market, ink their qualifying offers.

Still, none of those qualifying offers would equal Kaman’s $8MM payday, and as above-minimum one-year deals diminish in number, they’re also reducing in value. Four of the eight most lucrative one-year deals from 2012 were for more than Seraphin’s qualifying offer, and no one’s matched the $4MM that Elton Brand saw from the Hawks in the one-year deal he signed last summer.

It’s difficult to explain the phenomenon in an NBA where more and more teams set themselves up to have cap flexibility every summer, thanks in large measure to the stricter limits on the lengths of deals that the latest collective bargaining agreement imposed. In theory, teams would be turning to one-year deals with increasing frequency, but that’s not happening.

Players who’ve signed above-minimum one-year contracts the past two summers have almost universally failed to re-sign with the same team the next year. Martell Webster, who signed for $1.6MM with the Wizards in 2012, inked a four-year contract with Washington last year, but none of the 13 other above-minimum one-year signees from the past two offseasons have rejoined their teams.

The results for the players from 2012 were mixed, as four of them wound up seeing raises in 2013 and four of them didn’t. Kaman, who signed high-dollar one-year deals in both 2012 and 2013, will see a raise this coming season, but he won’t make an annual salary as high as what he saw on the one-year deal he signed in 2012. He’s the only member of the 2013 class who’s seen any sort of raise, as four of the six have gone without NBA deals this summer.

Here are the one-year deals from each of the past three offseasons that have exceeded the amount of the 10-year veteran’s minimum salary, with details on what the signees from 2012 and 2013 wound up with the following summer. Note that this takes into account offseason signings only, and not midseason signees like Andrew Bynum, who inked a one-year deal with the Pacers this February for more than the prorated 10-year veteran’s minimum.




The Basketball Insiders salary pages were used in the creation of this post.

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