Report: Hornets signing No. 32 pick Vernon Carey Jr. to record-breaking contract

Hornets center Vernon Carey Jr. and Grizzlies big Xavier Tillman in Duke-Michigan State
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The Grizzlies signed No. 35 pick Xavier Tillman to a contract that reportedly set a record for guaranteed money to a second-rounder who signed the same year ($4.6 million).

Vernon Carey Jr., drafted No. 32 by the Hornets out of Duke, is already breaking that record.

Bobby Marks of ESPN:

Carey’s minimum salaries on a four-year deal:

  • 2020-21: $898,310
  • 2021-22: $1,517,981
  • 2022-23: $1,782,621
  • 2023-24: $1,930,681
  • Total $6,129,593

So, a fully guaranteed four-year minimum contract would have more guaranteed money that Tillman’s. More likely: Carey’s contract, like Tillman’s, contains a team option/non-guarantee for the fourth season and has a higher salary in the first year. Tillman will reportedly get $1.3 million this season. Carey could get slightly more. Charlotte has the cap space after stretching Nicolas Batum, even with adding Gordon Hayward.

Carey is effectively betting against himself. Rather than risk a short-term deal that allows him to hit free agency and seek a big raise, he’s locking in as long as possible for relatively cheap. In exchange, he’ll get more money guaranteed.

For an old-school center in an NBA that has a surplus of such players, its not the worst strategy.