The Rockets got creative with Nene‘s new contract, according to Jeff Siegel of Early Bird Rights, who reports (via Twitter) that the deal spans two years, with a non-guaranteed second season. Although Nene is only owed a minimum base salary in each of those two seasons, likely incentives increase the annual value of the contract to $10MM per year, per Siegel.
The criteria for Nene’s incentives will be fascinating, since it’s hard to imagine he’ll actually earn all $7MM+ in bonus money. The Rockets may be artificially inflating his cap hit using incentives that will be tricky to earn (even though they’re technically considered “likely”). A $10MM cap hit – made possible because Houston held Nene’s Bird rights – will make the veteran center one of Houston’s most valuable salary-matching pieces leading up to the February trade deadline.
According to Siegel, the trigger date for Nene’s 2020/21 salary is February 15, 2020 rather than next summer, which suggests there’s a real chance the big man could be released during the season, perhaps being traded and then bought out in early February.
As we wait for more specifics on Nene’s contract, let’s round up a few more items out of Houston…
- Alykhan Bijani of The Athletic takes an in-depth look at the newly-formed backcourt duo of Russell Westbrook and James Harden, exploring how the two former MVPs will fit alongside one another in Houston. As Bijani fits, the success of the partnership will ultimately come down to how both players will contribute during offensive possessions when they’re not the primary ball-handler.
- Last week, the Rockets converted Shamorie Ponds and William McDowell-White to two-way contracts, then back to non-guaranteed standard contracts in order to ensure that the club has injury protection on the new deals. According to RealGM’s transactions log, Houston did the same thing for Chris Clemons, who initially signed an Exhibit 10 pact with the team in July at the same time as Ponds and McDowell-White.
- For all the latest updates on the Rockets, be sure to keep tabs on our Houston Rockets team page.