But the other five deals reached shortly before last week’s rookie-scale-extension deadline? They all had terms not initially reported that change the assessments at least somewhat – all in favor of the team.
Jonathan Isaac (Magic)
Initially reported terms: Four years, $80 million
Isaac – who’s currently out for the season with a torn ACL – will get just $69.6 million in base salary. The other $10.4 million comes only if he stays healthy. Certain injury could even render his contract completely unguaranteed.
First of all, there are the incentives — $2.6 million each year — that he only receives if he plays in at least 70 games (or the pro-rated equivalent if we change from an 82-game schedule).
Second, sources tell The Athletic that his contract contains an “Exhibit 3,” which could limit or eliminate his salary protection based on an injury to a certain body part. That body part would almost certainly be his left knee that just suffered a torn ACL.
Isaac looked quite promising before getting hurt. If he gets back on track, this deal will be a steal.
It’s always difficult to evaluate medical risk from the outside – often even from the inside. But Orlando got significant injury protection.
Derrick White (Spurs)
Initially reported terms: Four years, $73 million
This actually counts as four years, $70 million – including $500,000 of likely annual incentives. White has another $750,000 annually of unlikely incentives.
White gets $500,000 for playing 70 games. The other incentives are long shots: $500,000 for making 185 3-pointers (this would more than double his career-high of 79) and $250,000 for making either All-Defense team.
Even 70 games is not a lock. White remains sidelined by a toe injury. (Presumably, that’s prorated to 62 games in this shortened season).
White could (and probably should) increase his 3-point volume. He has made 36% of his career 3s, though peaked at just 3.2 attempts per game last season.
An All-Defensive team is certainly possible. But just four guards make it per year. Even the best defensive guards aren’t assured of a slot.
Luke Kennard (Clippers)
Initially reported terms: Four years, $64 million
Kennard’s deal is just $41,236,364 guaranteed. The last year is a $14,763,636 team option. There are also $8 million of incentives.
The incentives are fairly easily reached too: He gets $620,454 by playing either 66 games or 1,772 minutes (pro-rated if the league doesn’t play an 82-game season) and another $477,273 for playing in the first round of the playoffs. That’s an extra $1.1 million per year right there, so you can pretty much count this as a $60 million deal.
The other incentives range from more difficult ($143,182 each for making the conference finals and Finals) to unlikely but possible ($190,909 for winning it all) to straight-up LOL (he gets $334,091 if his DRating is less than 105).
If all goes well for the 24-year-old, the team option will be irrelevant. But it offers the Clippers protection if Kennard’s knee issues linger or other issues emerge.
The Clippers are very good, so all Kennard’s playoff-advancement bonuses are at least reachable.
Markelle Fultz (Magic)
Initially reported terms: Three years, $50 million
Just $2 million of Fultz’s third-year $17 million salary is guaranteed. So, this could become a two-year, $35 million deal – which looks far more palatable.
the contract includes an additional $1 million incentive for winning the Most Improved Player award.
It’s foolish to predict any single player will win Most Improved Player. But after all his shooting struggles, Fultz has at least established a potential career arc that will appeal to voters.
I wouldn’t bet on Fultz ever shooting well enough to provide surplus value at this salary. But I’m not sure Orlando had a better way to spend its money over the next couple years.
Kyle Kuzma (Lakers)
Initially reported terms: Three years, $40 million
This is actually a three-year $39 million deal, according to Basketball Insiders. Classic psychological pricing with public-facing rounding.