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NBA players signed to minimum contracts are usually defined into one of three groups:

  • Rookies or young players who are hoping to make a team
  • Veteran players who are hoping to play a role a title contender
  • Veteran players who receive a buyout and catch on late in the season with a contender

The first group regularly sees players play themselves off of a minimum contract. This offseason alone, that group includes Bruce Brown Jr., Devonte’ Graham, Talen Horton-Tucker, Kendrick Nunn, Duncan Robinson and Gary Trent Jr. All of these players are going to get more than the minimum and some are going to get considerably more.

The last group is a matter of circumstance. For all of Andre Drummond’s foibles as a player, he’s not really someone who will play on a minimum contract for very long. After his buyout from the Cleveland Cavaliers, Drummond joined the Lakers for a shot at a ring. This summer, Drummond will make far more than the minimum, even if it means taking a role with a lesser team. Blake Griffin is another good example. If he wants to leave the Nets for more than the minimum, he’s shown he’s still got the game to earn more.

It’s the middle group where players often get stuck, sometimes forever. Around the NBA there is a thought that “Once a minimum player, always a minimum player” when it comes to veterans.

Fair or unfair, that’s how life works in the NBA. The vast majority of successful teams are built around one to three players on max contracts, a handful signed to a mid-tier contract via the Mid-Level Exception, a few Rookie Scale players and then a handful of players that were signed via the Minimum Exception. Or the bench is rounded out with young players who the team used part of an exception to sign to a three or four-year minimum contract (Minimum Exception deals are limited to two seasons in length).

This season several players stuck in that “minimum player” category seem to have played themselves out of that designation. Here’s a list of players who might be looking at a more lucrative contract in 2021-22, based on their play this year.


Reggie Jackson (PG, LAC)

Jackson turned in one of his better seasons while toiling away on the minimum for the Los Angeles Clippers. He averaged 10.7 points per game, while shooting 45% from the field and 43% from behind the arc. In the postseason, Jackson has been even better. He’s averaged 17.6 points on 51% shooting overall and 42% from behind the arc. With several teams looking at point guard openings this summer, Jackson has earned himself at least a large chunk of the Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception from someone.


Nicolas Batum (SF, LAC)

Let’s stick with Clippers vets for a minute. Batum looked finished in 2019-20 with the Charlotte Hornets. He barely played, shot poorly and it looked like his NBA career was over. The Clippers added Batum for the minimum and he became a key rotation player for them. He stayed healthy all season and turned in 8.1 points (on some of the best shooting of his career) and 4.7 rebounds in 27.4 minutes per game. He’s also shown the ability to play some small ball five, which adds to his value. It’s unclear if Batum will leave LA or not. If he stays, he probably stays on the minimum. If he wants to cash in elsewhere, he could get $4 or $5 million from a title contender for a bench role.


Cameron Payne (PG, PHX)

Going head-to-head with the Clippers is Payne, who has finally put it all together in his sixth season. The Phoenix Suns did well to add Payne on a two-year, minimum contract before the bubble last season. He played well at Walt Disney World and that’s carried over to this year. He’s been a solid backup to Chris Paul and stepped up while Paul was out to start the Western Conference Finals. Payne should get a portion of the MLE from a good team to be a high-end backup point guard that can start when necessary.


Torrey Craig (SF, PHX)

Completing our quartet of Western Conference finalists on the minimum is Craig. He’s a defense-first wing who easily fits on any good team. The Milwaukee Bucks probably should have kept him, but the Suns stole him on the cheap when the Bucks needed to clear a roster spot. Craig’s defense alone should earn him a chunk of the MLE from someone, but his offense is probably better than you think too.


Solomon Hill (SF, ATL)

Hill belongs in the same camp as Batum, even if he’s several years younger. If he wants to return to Atlanta, it’s probably for the minimum, as the Hawks payroll is starting to get a little unwieldy. But if Hill wants to cash in on his newfound “defensive stopper” reputation, he could get a nice offer elsewhere.


Austin Rivers (PG, DEN)

Rivers play for the Denver Nuggets was better than most expected. If he’s happy there as a placeholder until Jamal Murray returns, Rivers will re-sign with Denver for the minimum. Otherwise, he could leverage a poor free agent class into a bigger offer from a playoff contender seeking guard depth.


Jeff Green (PF, BKN)

Since his one-year, $15 million contract with the Orlando Magic expired in 2017, Jeff Green has played for the minimum for five different clubs over the last four seasons. If Green wants to stay with a ready-made title contender in Brooklyn, the Nets will happily bring him back on another minimum deal. If Green wants to cash in one last time, he might have a chance to snag part of the MLE from a playoff hopeful looking for a veteran forward for their bench.

NBA Minimum Contract Reggie Jackson Nicolas Batum Cameron Payne Torrey Craig Solomon Hill Austin Rivers Jeff Green

The presence, and absence, of a handful of players with the recently announced 2020-21 All-NBA teams has major financial ramifications for upcoming and future contract extensions.

The 2020-21 All-NBA Teams:

First Team

  • Nikola Jokic
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo
  • Kawhi Leonard
  • Stephen Curry
  • Luka Doncic

Second Team

  • Joel Embiid
  • Julius Randle
  • LeBron James
  • Damian Lillard
  • Chris Paul

Third Team

  • Rudy Gobert
  • Jimmy Butler
  • Paul George
  • Bradley Beal
  • Kyrie Irving


Luka Doncic, G, DAL

Let’s start with Luka Doncic. By virtue of being named to an All-NBA team for the second consecutive year, Doncic now qualifies for the Designated Player Rookie Extension. We previously covered all of the options for Doncic last week. Here’s the projected extension starting at 30% of the 2022-23 cap that Doncic is now in line to sign:

  • 2022-23 - $34,735,800
  • 2023-24 - $37,514,664
  • 2024-25 - $40,293,528
  • 2025-26 - $43,072,392
  • 2026-27 - $45,851,256
  • Total – 5 years, $201,467,640

(Note: Doncic will complete the fourth and final year of his Rookie Scale contract during the 2021-22 season. This extension would start with the following season in 2022-23.) Because of Doncic’s stature in the league, it’s likely he’ll have a player option on the fifth year of his new deal. And he’ll probably have a 15% trade bonus added in there too.

Because Doncic made All-NBA in both 2019-20 and 2020-21, he is no longer dependent on being honored for 2021-22. A player must make All-NBA or win Defensive Player of the Year in either the two seasons that preceded the most recent season or in the most recent season (or win MVP in any of the three preceding seasons) to qualify for a Designated Player Extension. Since Doncic made it in 2019-20 and 2020-21, he’s now qualified for the Designated Player Rookie Extension no matter how his 2021-22 season goes.


Bam, Fox, Mitchell, & Tatum

Sticking with Designated Player Rookie Extensions, a quartet of players did not make All-NBA and thus did not qualify for the jump from 25% to 30% of the cap (or anywhere in-between). Bam Adebayo, De’Aaron Fox, Donovan Mitchell and Jayson Tatum all were eligible to bump to 30% of the cap in first-year salary in their extensions had they made All-NBA. Fox wasn’t a realistic candidate to make All-NBA, but Adebayo had a case and Tatum and Mitchell were both certainly deserving. In the case of Tatum, he narrowly missed out on his second straight All-NBA nod.

As it stands now, each player will have a projected extension structure of:

  • 2021-22 - $28,103,500
  • 2022-23 - $30,351,780
  • 2023-24 - $32,600,060
  • 2024-25 - $34,848,340
  • 2025-26 - $37,096,620
  • Total – 5 years, $163,000,300

Both Tatum and Mitchell have player options on their fifth years, while Adebayo and Fox are straight five-year contracts.

Had any of the quartet been named to All-NBA, they would have been eligible for a projected first-year salary of $33,724,200 and a total salary of $195,600,360 over the life of their deals. That’s a difference of $5,620,700 in 2021-22 and $32,600,060 over the full run.


Joel Embiid, C, PHI

As for the Designated Player Veteran Extension, Joel Embiid has now qualified to sign under this criterion. Embiid’s current deal is scheduled to run through 2022-23. This offseason, the 76ers could tack on four additional years to Embiid’s contract via the Designated Player Veteran Extension beginning in 2023-24 at 35% of the cap. That would give Embiid a projected contract structure of:

  • 2021-22 - $31,579,390 (current contract)
  • 2022-23 - $33,616,770 (current contract)
  • 2023-24 - $42,551,250 (Year 1 of Designated Player Veteran Extension)
  • 2024-25 - $45,955,350
  • 2025-26 - $49,359,450
  • 2026-27 - $52,763,550
  • Total – 6 years, $255,825,760

That’s a lot of money to lay out, given Embiid’s injury history and the fact that he’ll turn 33 years old during the 2026-27 season, but Embiid is the NBA’s best two-way center and has gotten more serious about his conditioning this year. It’s probably worth the gamble to keep one of the league’s most talented big men happy and in the fold in Philadelphia.

NBA All-NBA Team

Tim Duncan

Signed six contracts over his career.

    • 3 year / $10.24 million (Rookie contract)
    • 3 year / $31.9 million
    • 7 year / $122 million (exercised 2008-09 Player Option)
    • 2 year / $40 million (extension)
    • 3 year / $30.36 million (exercised 2014-15 Player Option)
    • 2 year / $10.85 million (retired prior to 2016-17 season but salary was guaranteed)

Highest Salary: $22,183,220 (2009-10 season)

Average Salary per 20 seasons played: $12,738,147


Kobe Bryant

Signed five contracts over his career.

    • 3 year / $3.5 million (Rookie contract)
    • 5 year / $56.225 million (exercised 2004-05 Early Termination Option to become free agent)
    • 7 year / $136.4 million (exercised 2010-11 Player Option)
    • 3 year / $83.5 million (included the rare no-trade clause)
    • 2 year / $48 million

Highest Salary: $30,453,805 (2013-14 season)

Average Salary per 20 seasons played: $16,165,615


Kevin Garnett

Signed six contracts over his career.

    • 3 year / $5.39 million (Rookie contract)
    • 6 year / $126 million (exercised 2004-05 Early Termination Option to become free agent)
    • 5 year / $100 million (traded to Boston; trade kicker activated)
    • 3 year / $51.3 million (signed extension part of MIN-BOS trade)
    • 3 year / $36 million (included rare no-trade clause; waived for BKN-BOS trade)
    • 2 year / $16.5 million (included rare no-trade clause; retired prior to 2016-17 season but salary was guaranteed)

Highest Salary: $30,417,829 (2007-08 season due to trade kicker bonus money)

Average Salary per 21 seasons played: $15,919,250


Year Tim Duncan Kobe Bryant Kevin Garnett
1 $2,967,840 $1,015,000 $1,622,000
2 $3,413,000 $1,167,240 $1,666,000
3 $3,858,240 $1,319,000 $2,109,120
4 $9,600,000 $9,000,000 $8,536,585
5 $10,230,000 $10,130,000 $16,806,300
6 $12,072,500 $11,250,000 $19,610,000
7 $12,676,125 $12,375,000 $22,400,000
8 $14,260,641 $13,500,000 $25,200,000
9 $15,845,156 $14,175,000 $28,000,000
10 $17,429,672 $15,946,875 $16,000,000
11 $19,014,188 $17,718,750 $18,000,000
12 $20,598,704 $19,490,625 $21,000,000
13 $22,183,220 $21,262,500 $30,417,829
14 $18,835,381 $23,034,375 $23,000,000
15 $17,034,937 $24,806,250 $14,665,110
16 $9,638,554 $20,318,738 $17,080,110
17 $10,361,446 $27,849,149 $15,691,186
18 $10,361,446 $30,453,805 $11,566,265
19 $6,000,000 $23,500,000 $12,433,735
20 $5,643,750
(retired/waived but earned)
$25,000,000 $12,000,000
21     $8,500,000
22     $8,000,000
(retired/waived but earned)
Total $242,024,800 $323,312,307 $334,304,240
Avg $12,738,147 $16,165,615 $15,919,250


NBA NBA Hall of Fame Tim Duncan Kobe Bryant Kevin Garnett

A "SuperMax" Extension or also known as the Designated Player rule allows for an NBA player to receive increased compensation based on certain criteria being met. The increased salary allows for the first year salary of the extension to be 30% or 35% of the designated league year cap based on credited experience and performance awards (All-NBA, Defensive Player of the Year or Most Valuable Player). Players are able to receive a yearly raise up to 8% of the first year salary.

A player who is signed to a Designated Player extension can only be signed from the end of the offseason moratorium through the last day before the regular season. Furthermore, being signed to this extension type means a player cannot be traded for one year after the extension has been signed.

Designated/"SuperMax" Extension Types

Designated Rookie Extension

Player is entering the 4th year of rookie scale contract, maximum salary starts at 25% of the cap (30% based on criteria below) with a maximum of six (6) years (which includes the remaining year on the current contract).

A player with fewer than seven (7) years of experience and mets the criteria for the 30% of the cap is said to be eligible for the "Derrick Rose Rule," name for Derrick Rose who won the MVP during his third season in the NBA.

Designated Veteran Extension

Player has 7 or 8 years of experience and has 1 or 2 years remaining on their current contract (all with with the same team or was traded during first four years in the NBA) and meets the criteria below is eligible for a maximum salary that starts at 35% of the cap with a maximum of six (6) years (which includes the remaining years on the current contract).


Who applies for this increase:

(A) Players finishing their rookie scale contract and other players having been credited with four (4) years of service can receive a starting salary up to 30% of the cap.

(B) Players finishing their rookie scale extension or other players having seven to nine (7-9) years of experience can receive a starting salary up to 35% of the cap.


At least one of the following must apply:

(A) Player was named to All-NBA First, Second or Third team in most reason season or both of the two seasons prior to the most recent season.

Based on 2021 offseason, player was named to any All-NBA team in 2020-21 OR was named to any All-NBA team in 2018-19 AND 2019-20.

(B) Player was named the Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY) in most reason reason or both of the two season prior to the most recent season.

Based on 2021 offseason, player was named to DPOY in 2020-21 OR was named as DPOY in 2018-19 AND 2019-20.

(C) Player was named Most Valuable Player (MVP) in any of the three most recent seasons.

Based on 2021 offseason, player was named as MVP in 2018-19, 2019-20 or 2020-21.


Supermax Extension Designated Player Extension Extension NBA

How much do the players selected to the All-Star Game, Rookie-Sophomore Game, and All-Star Skills competition make?


All-Star Game

Winners: $50,000 per player

Losers: $25,000 per player


Rookie-Sophomore Game

Winners: $25,000 per player

Losers: $10,000 per player


All-Star Skills Competition

Slam Dunk

1st Place: $100,000

2nd Place: $50,000

3rd Place: $20,000

4th Place: $20,000


Three-Point Shootout

1st Place: $50,000

2nd Place: $35,000

3rd Place: $25,000

4th Place: $10,000

5th Place: $10,000

6th Place: $10,000



1st Place: $50,000

2nd Place: $35,000

3rd Place: $15,000

4th Place: $15,000


Shooting Stars

1st Place: $60,000

2nd Place: $45,000

3rd Place: $24,000

4th Place: $24,000


NBA All-Star Game All-Star Skills