The three-year maximum-salary contract that Brook Lopez signed this past summer with the Nets contains only conditional guarantees for next season and 2017/18 based on the health of his right foot, as Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports reports in a story that suggests the contract terms as a model for Bradley Beal. Lopez’s salary of $21.166MM for next season is only 50% guaranteed, and the team could avoid paying 75% of his more than $22.642MM take for 2017/18, according to Mannix.
Full guarantees kick in if the Wasserman Media Group client hits certain benchmarks, Mannix adds, and it’s unclear if the 27-year-old center has already triggered any such protections after having played in all 46 of Brooklyn’s games so far. The key is for Lopez to avoid another significant injury to the fifth metatarsal in his right foot, Mannix writes. That’s a bone he’s broken multiple times in the past.
Lopez is making a fully guaranteed $19.689MM this year. The Nets, with Lopez’s full salary taken into account, have more than $45MM in commitments for next season against a projected $89MM salary cap, and about $41MM for 2017/18, when the cap is projected to shoot up to $108MM. Free agency is especially important for the Nets, who are without their first-round picks in 2016 and 2018 and must swap first-rounders with the Celtics in 2017, so additional flexibility wouldn’t hurt, though it appears that would only come at the cost of a major injury to Lopez, the team’s leading scorer this season.
The Wizards have planned to sign Bradley Beal to a maximum-salary contract this summer, as Sean Deveney of The Sporting News reported this past fall, though that was before Beal said that he’ll probably have to deal with a minutes limit for the rest of his career. An NBA GM told Mannix that he’s “scared” of Beal because of his injury history.