After earning a $9MM salary in each of his last two NBA seasons, Lance Stephenson will be taking a significant pay cut for the 2016/17 season. Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, confirming that Stephenson received a minimum-salary contract from the Pelicans, reports (via Twitter) that only $100K of that total is guaranteed.
[RELATED: Pelicans Sign Lance Stephenson]
The Pelicans had gone over the salary cap earlier in the offseason, and had used most of their $2.898MM room exception on Tim Frazier, leaving only the minimum salary exception for Stephenson. A player with Stephenson’s NBA experience (six years) is entitled to a minimum salary of $1,227,286 this season, but the deal will only count for $980,431 against New Orleans’ cap, and the team will only be on the hook for $100,000 if Stephenson doesn’t make the regular-season roster.
With Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday not expected to be available to start the regular season, there’s a decent chance Stephenson will land a spot on the team to help provide depth in the Pelicans’ backcourt. Still, the team already has 15 players on fully guaranteed contracts, and Stephenson’s modest guarantee suggests he’ll have a bit of an uphill battle to overtake one of those players — especially since there’s no obvious candidate to be waived.
As I noted last week, Terrence Jones and Alonzo Gee are the only players on New Orleans’ roster who are owed modest salaries for 2016/17 and have no guaranteed money on their deals beyond this season, so perhaps one of those players will be cut to make room for Stephenson. Both Jones and Gee signed new contracts with the Pelicans in July, meaning they can’t be traded until after December 15.