Most NBA clubs will enter this year’s free agent period without any cap room, but each of the league’s 30 franchises 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 roster limits allow, for contracts of up to two years. Unlike other exceptions, such as the mid-level or the bi-annual, the minimum salary exception can be used multiple times.
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. 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 2020/21 on a minimum salary contract.
Listed below are 2020/21’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.
These figures are the same as in 2019/20, since the NBA has artificially set its ’20/21 salary cap to match last season’s.
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 $1,620,564, the minimum salary for a player with two years of experience.
For instance, if Courtney 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 $1,620,564 for Lee’s contract. He’d earn $2,564,753, 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. Those figures also only apply to players who are signing new contracts in 2020/21. Players who are in the second, third, or fourth year of a minimum salary deal will be earning a slightly different predetermined amount.
For instance, a player like Raptors guard Terence Davis, who has one year of NBA experience, will be earning a $1,517,981 salary in the second year of his contract, exceeding the $1,445,697 he’d receive if he were signing a new minimum deal this fall. More details on multiyear minimum contracts can be found at RealGM.