Minimum-Salary Contract Reimbursements

One of the reasons the Knicks don’t want to bring Jason Collins aboard right now is reportedly because they don’t want to go to the expense of doing so. But it’s not because Collins would cost the Knicks about $1.4MM on a minimum-salary contract. Instead, it’s probably because the team doesn’t want to cut a fully guaranteed deal and add anyone’s salary. Collins would only cost the Knicks and other NBA teams a prorated portion of $884,293 if he agreed to a one-year deal for the minimum, even though he’d indeed make nearly $1.4MM if paid for the entire season.

That’s because the league reimburses teams when they sign veterans with three or more years of experience to one-year, minimum-salary contracts. The NBA pays those veterans the difference between their escalated minimum salaries, which go up depending on how many years they’ve played in the league, and the equivalent of the two-year veteran’s minimum, which is $884,293 this season. The idea is to give long-tenured veterans equal footing against less-experienced players as they compete for jobs. Of course, younger talent still often has an advantage, since the rookie minimum of $490,180 is not much more than half the two-year vet’s minimum this year. Plus, multiyear deals aren’t covered by this provision, so the club has to foot the full amount of those contracts.

There are 18 teams taking advantage of reimbursements as the season begins. The Bulls, looking to save luxury tax money, are the only team set to receive more than $1MM, thanks to their pair of one-year contracts with players who have 10 or more years of experience, the most lucrative bracket on the minimum-salary scale. Of course, this could change, since Mike James‘ deal is non-guaranteed, as is the case with many on minimum contracts. Plenty of midseason signings will change the landscape. All 10-day contracts will be for the minimum and covered under the reimbursement provision.

Still, it’s interesting to see which teams are benefiting from the NBA’s money for now. The Knicks come in second behind the Bulls with three qualifying players. The Lakers have the most players covered by the provision, but since their vets are relatively inexperienced, they’re only the 13th highest on this list.

The Celtics, Cavaliers, Nuggets, Pistons, Warriors, Bucks, Pelicans, 76ers, Suns, Kings, Spurs and Raptors aren’t receiving any reimbursements.

Bulls (1,030,428)

Knicks ($935,006)

Clippers (817,380)

Thunder ($817,380)

Heat ($801,476)

Bobcats ($737,862)

Rockets ($658,345)

Jazz ($547,020)

Wizards ($547,020)

Pacers ($515,214)

Grizzlies ($515,214)

Trail Blazers  ($515,214)

Lakers ($508,908)

Mavericks ($451,600)

Nets  ($387,986)

Magic ($302,166)

Hawks ($143,131)

Timberwolves  ($63,614)

ShamSports was used in the creation of this post.

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