While some NBA teams will head into free agency with more than enough cap room to add a maximum salary player, others clubs will be totally capped out. However, each of the NBA’s 30 clubs will be on common ground in one respect: No team will be ineligible to sign a player to a minimum salary contract.
Teams with cap room available will have a little more flexibility to sign players to longer-term minimum salary contracts, but over-the-cap clubs will still be able to use the minimum salary exception to add as many players as they want. Unlike other exceptions, such as the mid-level or the bi-annual, the minimum salary exception can be used multiple times, for contracts of up to two years.
Undrafted free agents and late second-round picks are often recipients of minimum salary contracts, but there are plenty of veterans who end up settling for the minimum too. Of course, because a player’s minimum salary is determined by how much NBA experience he has, many veterans will earn more than twice as much money as a rookie will in 2017/18 on a minimum salary contract.
Listed below are 2017/18’s minimum salary figures, sorted by years of NBA experience. If a player spent any time on an NBA club’s active regular season roster in a given season, he earned one year of experience. So any player with zero years of experience has not yet made his NBA debut.
Here’s the full breakdown:
|Years of Experience||Salary|
Because the NBA doesn’t want teams to avoid signing veteran players in favor of cheaper, younger players, the league reimburses clubs who sign veterans with three or more years of experience to one-year, minimum salary contracts. Those deals will only count against the cap – and against a team’s bank balance – for $1,471,382, the minimum salary for a player with two years of experience.
For instance, if David Lee – who has 12 years of NBA experience – signs a one-year, minimum salary contract with a new team, that team would only be charged $1,471,382 for Lee’s contract. He’d earn $2,328,652, but the NBA would make up the difference. This only applies to one-year contracts, rather than multiyear deals.
If a player signs a minimum salary contract after the regular season begins, he’ll earn a pro-rated portion of the amount listed above.