According to Bobby Marks of The Vertical, there are 33 players around the NBA who can potentially earn incentive bonuses this season based on their own durability or performance, or based on how their team performs. Although Marks doesn’t identify all 33 players who have incentives included in their 2016/17 contracts, he discusses over half of them, passing along a number of interesting tidbits about those potential bonuses. Here are some of the highlights:
Minutes/games played bonuses:
NBA bonuses are deemed either “likely” or “unlikely,” using the previous season’s statistics as a benchmark, so if a player didn’t appear in many games during the previous year, a team can include a games-played benchmark and call it an unlikely incentive. For instance, John Henson‘s contract with the Bucks features incentives if he plays 60 games or 75 games this season. He appeared in just 57 contests in 2015/16, so neither of those marks is viewed as likely.
Individual statistic bonuses:
The Trail Blazers got creative with Maurice Harkless‘ new contract this summer, including an incentive bonus in the deal that can be triggered based if he keeps his three-point percentage above a certain level. Jeremy Lin, meanwhile, not only has a three-point percentage incentive, but also has bonuses linked to assists, turnovers, and threes and free throws attempted per 36 minutes.
Individual achievement bonuses:
Players like Bismack Biyombo (Magic), Evan Fournier (Magic), and Will Barton (Nuggets) have incentives related to their individual performances as well, but they’re related to awards and honors, rather than raw statistics. Biyombo gets a bonus if he makes the NBA’s All-Defensive team, Fournier gets some extra money for an All-Star appearance, and Barton would get $250K if he wins the Sixth Man of the Year award.
Of course, some of these incentives are more realistic than others. For instance, Thaddeus Young (Pacers) probably shouldn’t be counting on the $500K incentive bonus that he’d earn if he wins the league’s MVP award.
Team performance bonuses:
Several players, including Fournier, Jon Leuer (Pistons), and Joe Ingles (Jazz) have bonuses related to their teams making the playoffs. Many of those postseason incentives are tied to another condition. For example, for Taj Gibson to earn his bonus from the Bulls, he must appear in at least 60 games, play in at least 75% of Chicago’s playoff games, and average 25 or more minutes per game during the regular season.
Some players also have incentives linked to their teams’ win total, and once again, some are more attainable than others. For example, Nikola Mirotic could earn an extra $800K, but he’d need the Bulls to win 65+ games, so there’s a good chance his shot at that bonus will disappear about halfway through the season.
Be sure to check out the full breakdown from Marks for many more details on players who could earn incentive bonuses in 2016/17.