Over the summer, NBA teams faced a number of decisions on whether to keep a player and guarantee his salary or waive him and avoid that extra cost. In total, nearly 50 players had some sort of guarantee deadline on their contracts in June, July, and August.
Typically, that pattern continues to some extent in the fall. All NBA contracts for a given year become guaranteed on January 10 (not counting 10-day deals), but several contracts include trigger dates that come before the new year, most frequently around the start of the regular season.
A player with a mid-October salary guarantee date in his contract receives a sizable bonus if he makes his club’s regular season roster, perhaps even having his entire salary guaranteed. If he doesn’t earn a spot on his team’s 15-man squad, he’s waived without getting that guarantee, but has the opportunity to seek a new job elsewhere.
For the 2018/19 league year though, fall salary guarantee dates are scarce. While there are plenty of players on non-guaranteed contracts around the NBA, virtually all of those contracts will remain non-guaranteed until January 10.
According to data from Basketball Insiders and ESPN, the Knicks are one of the few teams carrying players with salary trigger dates this fall. Trey Burke, whose deal is currently partially guaranteed for $100K, will have that partial guarantee bumped to $400K if he remains under contract for the first game of the regular season. Noah Vonleh, on a non-guaranteed contract for now, will receive a $100K partial guarantee if he’s not waived by September 25.
Outside of those two dates, September 1 represents the other deadline of note for salary guarantees. The Thunder and Abdel Nader reportedly agreed to push his guarantee deadline from August 1 to September 1, so Nader – who currently has a $450K partial guarantee – should be in line for a fully guaranteed salary if he’s not waived by Saturday.
Elsewhere, there’s some conflicting info on a pair of Pelicans players. Emeka Okafor and DeAndre Liggins have $100K and $75K partial guarantees, respectively, according to Basketball Insiders. However, ESPN’s Bobby Marks indicated this week (via Twitter) that those partial guarantees won’t actually lock in until after September 1. If Okafor remains under contract through October 16, his guarantee would increase to $200K, per Basketball Insiders.
Salary details are still trickling in for some recent signees, and it’s possible that a few more free agent deals between now and the start of the season will feature trigger dates. For now though, there aren’t many salary guarantee deadlines worth keeping an eye on this fall.