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Salary Cap Situation and FAQs: 2008 Edition
« on: July 09, 2008, 03:53:19 AM »

Offline Roy Hobbs

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The previous version of this was outdated, so here's an update:

Salaries:
====================================================================
Player2008-20092009-20102010-20112011-20122012-2013
Kevin Garnett**$24,750,000$16,400,000$18,800,000$21,200,000n/a
Paul Pierce$18,077,903$19,795,712$21,515,521**n/an/a
Ray Allen$17,388,430$18,776,860n/an/an/a
Kendrick Perkins$4,078,880$4,250,000$4,390,208n/an/a
Brian Scalabrine$3,206,897$3,413,793n/an/an/a
Eddie House$2,650,000$2,862,000n/an/an/a
Tony Allen$2,500,000S2,500,000n/an/an/a
Rajon Rondo$1,315,080$2,094,922$3,018,783n/an/a
J.R. Giddens*$797,600$857,400$917,200$1,655,546$2,483,319
Leon Powe$797,581n/an/an/an/a
Patrick O'Bryant*$797,581$855,189n/an/an/a
Gabe Pruitt$711,517$825,497n/an/an/a
Glen Davis$711,517n/an/an/an/a
Bill Walker*$442,114$736,420$854,389$916,100n/a
Sam Cassell$797,581n/an/an/an/a
P.J. BrownFree Agentn/an/an/an/a
Totals***:$73,064,100$68,006,793$48,641,712$22,855,546$2,483,319

====================================================================
Team options are in red and qualifying offers are in green.  Salaries shown in orange represent non-guaranteed / partially guaranteed deals, while trade kickers and other owed salary obligations are in purple. Player options are listed in blue. Total salary assumes all options and qualifying offers are picked up.

* Salaries for Giddens, Walker and O'Bryant are estimated.  Giddens' salary amount is based upon 100% of the rookie scale, and Walker's deal is a standard two-year minimum.  O'Bryant's listed salary assumes a minimum deal with a second-year team option.  A conflicting report suggests the deal is for 2 years, $3 million.

** KG's salary is listed differently on Hoopshype and ESPN than it is on ShamSports.  Sham sports lists his salaries as $24,751,934 / $16,451,934 / $18,866,934 / $21,281,934.  Also, ShamSports indicates Pierce has a player option in the last year of his contract, whereas Hoopshype doesn't note such option.

*** Totals do not include updates to the salaries of Tony Allen, Eddie House, and Bill Walker.


Frequently asked questions:

1) How much is the salary cap for the 2008-2009 season?  How much is the luxury tax?  What is the difference between these two numbers?

The salary cap for this season is $58.68 million.  The luxury tax is $71.15 million.  A lot of people get these two numbers confused, so I'll do my best to explain.  However, the absolute best place to have these questions explained in detail in on Larry Coon's NBA Salary Cap FAQ page.

Essentially, the salary cap is a "soft" number which serves the purposes of limiting a team's ability to offer free agents from other teams contracts.  A team can offer a free agent a starting salary below or equivalent to its amount of remaining cap room.  For instance, if a team is $7 million below the salary cap, it can offer a free agent from another team a deal starting at $7 million per season.  If a team is over the cap, the most it can offer is the mid-level exception (the "MLE"), explained in greater detail below.  Obviously, we are far above the salary cap, and as such, for purposes of the Celtics discussion of the salary cap is purely academic.

More relevant is the luxury tax.  Basically, for teams that exceed the luxury tax, they pay a dollar for dollar penalty on amounts above the tax.  This money goes to the league, where it is divied up between the teams that stayed below the tax (again, this is overly simplistic, but you get the idea.) 

Last year, the luxury tax was $67.865 million.  Our payroll was roughly $76 million, meaning we paid a little over $8 million in luxury tax ($8,218,368, to be exact).  We also missed out on a league subsidy of $3,081,807, which only goes to non-taxpayers.   

2) What is an "exception"?

An exception is just that:  an "exception" to the salary cap that allows a team to go over the salary cap to sign, or in some cases trade for, a free agent.  For the Celtics, there are four relevant exceptions: the mid-level exception ("MLE"), the Bi-annual exception (also called the "LLE" or the "million dollar exception"), the minimum salary exception (also sometimes called the "veteran's minimum"), and the traded player exception.

The MLE: The MLE can be used to sign players to contracts for a maximum of five years, with annual raises equivalent to 8% of the contracts first year value each year.  This exception is available to teams above the salary cap, and can be used annually.  For the 2008-09 season, the MLE can be used to give free agents contracts starting at $5.585 million.  The MLE can be used in its entirety on one player, or can be split amongst several players. 

The LLE: The LLE can be used to sign players to contracts for a maximum of two year, with up to an 8% annual raise in the second year.  This exception is available to teams above the salary cap, but can only be used every other year.  The LLE for this season is $1.91 million.  The LLE can be used in its entirety on one player, or can be split amongst multiple players.

Bird Rights:  For any of our own free agents who have played for three years without changing teams via free agency for three seasons, we have what are known as "Bird rights".  This allows the team to sign the player for any amount up to a max contract.  Tony Allen is the only one of our free agents that we have Bird rights with.  (The exception is named after Larry Bird, who was the first player to be signed with the exception, in 1984-85.)

Non-Bird Rights:  For any of our own free agents who only have played for one year or less without changing teams via free agency, we can offer them a 20% raise over their 2007-08 salary, plus an annual raise equal to 8% of the value of the first year of the contract.

The Minimum Salary Exception:  This is an important one for the Celtics, for reasons that will be explained in greater detail below.  This exception allows a team to sign a player to the allocated minimum salary, which varies subject to the signing player's service time.  Contracts signed with the minimum can be up to two years in length.

3) What's the max contract we could give to another team's free agent?  Posey?  House?

We can offer any free agent the MLE, which as noted above begins at $5.585 million.  The max we can offer is a 5 year deal.  Thus, the breakdown is as follows:

Year 1: $5,585,000
Year 2: $6,031,800 (8% raise equal to $446,800)
Year 3: $6,478,600 ($446,800 raise)
Year 4: $6,925,400 ($446,800 raise)
Year 5: $7,372,200 ($446,800 raise)

Thus, the max contracts we can give are:

One year deal:   $5,585,000
Two year deal:   $11,616,800
Three year deal: $18,095,400
Four year deal:  $25,020,800
Five year deal:  $32,393,000

We can also offer Posey and House non-Bird contracts, in the following amounts:

Year 1: $3,847,200 (20% raise from this year's salary)
Year 2: $4,154,976 (8% raise from Year 1 salary, equal to $307,776 raise)
Year 3: $4,462,752 ($307,776 raise)
Year 4: $4,770,528 ($307,776 raise)
Year 5: $5,078,304 ($307,776 raise)

One year deal:  $3,847,200
Two year deal:  $8,002,176
Three year deal: $12,464,928
Four year deal:  $17,235,456
Five year deal:  $22,313,760

As for House:

Year 1: $1,800,000
Year 2: $1,944,000
Year 3: $2,088,000
Year 4: $2,232,000
Year 5: $2,376,000

Thus, that's a max of a five year, $10,440,00 deal.  More likely, he'd be looking at a two or three year deal, maximum.

We could also offer any player the LLE, which is $1.91 million this year and $1.99 million next season.

4) How many players do we have under contract?  What is the maximum number of players we can have on our roster?  Is there a minimum to the players we can have under contract?

Currently, we have nine players under contract.  We also have the draft rights to J.R. Giddens and Bill Walker, who are expected to sign contracts, and Semih Erden, who will play at least one additional season overseas..

Once the season starts, a team can have a maximum of 15 players under contract, and a minimum of 13 players.  Rosters must be finalized on or before October 31, 2008. 

5) What are the benefits to signing a player to a minimum deal?

There are several advantages to signing a player to a minimum deal.  First, there is no limit to the number of players a sign can sign to the minimum.  Second, any player signed to the minimum doesn't count against the MLE, meaning the MLE can be allocated towards other players.  Most importantly, though, the NBA actually subsidizes teams that sign players to the minimum.  The team is only responsible for the first $797,581 of player salary; the league pays any amount over this threshold.  Additionally, only $797,581 counts towards the luxury tax.

6) Where can I find a list of this year's free agents?  What about free agents in future years?

This year's free agents are available here.  You can find rankings by position here, and you can also find a decent free agency tracker here, although it has yet to be updated.

Potential 2009 and 2010 free agents can be found here.

7) Do teams have the right to match offers given to their free agents?

Generally not.  The only time a team has the right to match an offer sheet given to a player is if that player is a "restricted" free agent.  Essentially, a player is a restricted free agent after four years on a rookie deal for first rounders, and for all others players who are entering free agency in their first three seasons. 

Under those circumstances, a team has a right to match offers to its restricted free agents, so long as the team extended the player a qualifying offer.  If a team chooses not to extend a qualifying offer, the free agent then becomes unrestricted.

Our only potential restricted free agent this season was Tony Allen.  However, the team elected not to extend him a qualifying offer, instead choosing to make him an unrestricted free agent.  As noted above, we still possess Tony's Bird rights, and can sign him for any figure up to the maximum.

8) I heard J.R. Giddens didn't report to minicamp because he didn't sign his rookie contract.  What's up with that?  Aren't rookie contracts slotted at a certain salary?

Yes, rookie contracts are slotted.  A rookie contract for the #30 pick is slotted at $797,000.  However, here's the catch:  teams can sign their rookies for anywhere between 20% below that number and 20% above it.

Thus, we can sign Giddens to a contract for anywhere between $638,080 and $957,120 in his first year.  That's a difference of $319,040.  Most rookies are given the full 120%, but with our team over the luxury tax, it's likely that Danny is trying to avoid going that high.

9) How much will we pay Bill Walker?

As a second rounder, there is no "slot" for Walker's salary.  We're allowed to pay him any amount between the minimum salary and the full mid-level exception. 

In the past, Danny Ainge has made a practice of signing second-rounders with a portion of the MLE.  Why? Because the team wants to sign its rookies to three year contracts, and teams can not offer three year deals with either the LLE or the minimum salary exception.

Signing a player to a three year deal (usually one year guaranteed with two options) is important for two reasons. First, because it keeps the player on a rookie pay scale for three years, instead of the typical two.  Right now, this team needs cheap young talent, as it has three well-paid superstars on the roster.  Secondly, signing players to a three year deal means that the team acquires "Bird rights" in that player, meaning that the team can exceed the salary cap to sign that player without having to use the MLE or another exception.  This is helpful in holding on to our free agents, in case Danny hits it big on one of his draft picks.

However, if the team signs Posey or another player to the full MLE, it is likely that we'll sign Walker to a minimum deal. ($442,114 this season, $736,420 next.)

10) What about Semih Erden?  Will we have to pay him if he's in Europe?

No.  Erden has one year left on his contract overseas.  It is expected that he will come over to the United States next year.  Either way, we retain his draft rights for one year after the expiration of any non-NBA contract he plays under.  That means that if he extends his deal overseas, we continue to retain his rights until one year after his last contract terminates.

11) What does it mean when people say salaries need to "match" in a trade?

Assuming both teams are over the salary cap, incoming and outgoing salaries must be within 125% + $100,000 of each other for the trade to go through.

12) So, we have Bird rights to Tony Allen.  Does that mean we could sign him to a huge one-year deal, and then trade him to another team as an "expiring contract"?

No.  If you give a player larger than a 20% raise, he's subject to something called "base year compensation".  Essentially, what this means is that for purposes of trades, you only count 50% of the player's actual salary as outgoing salary for trade purposes.  However, the team trading *for* the BYC player has to count 100% of his actual salary for incoming purposes.

I know that's confusing as heck, so let me use an example.  Let's say we want to trade Tony for a player making $7 million.  We thus intend to sign Tony to a one-year, $7 million contract.  Here's how that breaks down under BYC rules:

Boston trades:  Tony Allen ($7 million salary * 50% reduction = $3.5 million)
Boston receives: $7 million player

The trade cannot go through, because the $3.5 million and $7.0 million salaries don't "match" within 125% + $100k.

Couldn't a team just sign Tony to a $14 million expiring contract, then?  No.  Here's why not:

Boston trades: Tony Allen ($14 million salary * 50% reduction = $7.0 million)
Boston receives: $7 million player

So far so good, right?  However, the next step kills it:

Team X trades: $7 million player
Team X receives: Tony Allen ($14 million salary, with no reduction)

Thus, once again, the salaries don't "match".  Base year compensation makes it very difficult (although not impossible) for players to be traded in the first year of contracts where they saw a substantial raise.

13) Looking at the above chart, it looks like the Celtics only have around $49 million in salaries committed for 2010.  If the cap goes up to around $65 million, does that mean they can spend $16 million on free agents?  Could they then resign Ray Allen with their Bird rights?

No and no.  Surprising to many, free agents continue to count against a team's salary cap until they're either signed or renounced.  This is called a "cap hold".  Free agents essentially count against the cap at a figure greater than their previous salary. 

The amount of these cap holds varies significantly; for actual percentages, see here.  For purposes of the Celtics, Ray Allen would have a cap hold in excess of $20 million.  While the team could renounce Ray, if they did so they would only be able to pay him the minimum salary.

Of even more significance is the cap hold of Rajon Rondo.  As a restricted free agent, he carries a cap hold of 300% of his previous salary, or approximately $6.3 million.  Thus, under the above scenario, the Celtics actual cap room would be approximately $10 million, rather than the $16 million anticipated.  Further, there would be additional salary slots or cap holds for any other players on the roster.  For instance, teams must have 12 players on their roster; for every player less than 12, the team is charged a "cap charge" equal to the rookie minimum salary ($457,588 in 2010).  That's equal to $3,660,704.  That means our cap space is reduced to approximately $6.4 million, or an amount roughly equal to the MLE.  That's assuming we renounce *all* of our free agents.  Long story short, unless we're starting over with ten or more new players, we don't have significant cap room in 2010-11, even if we renounce Ray.

14) Does Pierce have an early termination option in his last year?  Is Leon's contract really not guaranteed?

There is conflicting data regarding Pierce's contract.  Hoopshype has Paul's salary in 2010-2011 as guaranteed; ShamSports (a site I actually like a little better) says it's an option.  I went with the "better safe than sorry" approach, and listed it.  Peter May would be proud.

In terms of Leon's contract, this year's salary was originally non-guaranteed, meaning the team could terminate it if they wanted.  There were certain performances clauses tied to statistics that would have made it a guaranteed deal.  Leon misses those incentives, but it seems extremely likely that the team will bring Leon back, if they have not formally picked up his option already.

15) Where can I research these issues on my own?

Larry Coon's FAQ is an invaluable resource.  For those who want to go above and beyond Coon's efforts, you can find the actual text of the Collective Bargaining Agreement on the Player's Association website.

16) What are the rules concerning the D-League?

During an NBA player’s first two seasons in the league (regardless of his age when he entered the league), his team will be permitted to assign him to a team in the NBA Development League. A player can be assigned to the NBADL up to three times per season. The player will continue to be paid his NBA salary and will continue to be included on his NBA team’s roster (on the inactive list) while playing in the NBADL.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2009, 09:24:47 AM by Roy Hobbs »

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Re: Salary Cap Situation and FAQs: 2008 Edition
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2008, 05:26:55 AM »

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Great information Roy. Thanks for all your work.

I was very interested to learn what the cap hold was for Rondo in 2010.  I hadn't heard too much about cap holds prior to this season and the Clippers situation, didn't know any specifics on them. I just scrolled through Larry Coon's explanation for different experience/contracts, all very interesting. 300% of Rondo's fourth year contract which unfortunately will seriously dent any 2010 max contract free agency hopes. It want to be one heck of a certainty to renounce and give up Rondo+Ray.

Plus that list of 09/10 free agents which I couldn't find on ESPN when I looked two days ago. Very useful all round. Many thanks.

Re: Salary Cap Situation and FAQs: 2008 Edition
« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2008, 11:36:44 AM »

Offline Roy Hobbs

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Okay, I'm being lame, and am bumping my own thread.  I spend enough time here to know that *somebody* has a question that isn't neatly answered above.

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Re: Salary Cap Situation and FAQs: 2008 Edition
« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2008, 01:55:58 PM »

Offline Triboy16

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hobbs can u clearify between the cap and the threeshold mark??

so a team who is at 40 million can spend up to 15 million(approx figures) only?? how about if they go over the cap but are lower than the threeshold mark (approx below 71 million).

I understand clearly that if you go over 71 million you have to pay a penalty but thats about it

imo i think its dumb that the nba has a cap at about 55 million but teams can exceed that below 71 million and not pay the tax. So the real cap if teams can offerd to pay up to that much for players must be 71 million and below

Re: Salary Cap Situation and FAQs: 2008 Edition
« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2008, 02:27:56 PM »

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Hobbs,  (TP) great summary.  I thought I knew a bit about the NBA collective bargaining agreement, and after reading your piece, I am right, I do know just a little bit about it.  Thanks for filling in the blanks for me.  Well infomative piece.

Re: Salary Cap Situation and FAQs: 2008 Edition
« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2008, 02:31:48 PM »

Offline Roy Hobbs

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hobbs can u clearify between the cap and the threeshold mark??

so a team who is at 40 million can spend up to 15 million(approx figures) only?? how about if they go over the cap but are lower than the threeshold mark (approx below 71 million).

I understand clearly that if you go over 71 million you have to pay a penalty but thats about it

imo i think its dumb that the nba has a cap at about 55 million but teams can exceed that below 71 million and not pay the tax. So the real cap if teams can offerd to pay up to that much for players must be 71 million and below

You instinct is right:  you can go over the salary cap, and so long as you don't go over the luxury tax threshold, you are fine.  The NBA has the ultimate "soft" cap.  The only restriction for being over the salary cap is you are limited as to what you can offer other teams' free agents (to the exceptions set forth above).

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Re: Salary Cap Situation and FAQs: 2008 Edition
« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2008, 02:33:02 PM »

Offline Roy Hobbs

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Also, thanks to everybody for their kind words.  I enjoy these types of posts, even if they are a bit time consuming.
« Last Edit: July 09, 2008, 02:44:40 PM by Roy Hobbs »

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Re: Salary Cap Situation and FAQs: 2008 Edition
« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2008, 03:20:55 PM »

Offline Roy Hobbs

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With the latest numbers revealed, it looks like going over the luxury tax cost the franchise an extra $11,300,175.  From what I've heard, though, the team recouped that (and then a bit of profit) for its playoff run.

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Re: Salary Cap Situation and FAQs: 2008 Edition
« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2008, 05:27:06 PM »

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Great article Roy.  Salary cap specifics interest me a bit more than they should interest a sane person.  One question though.  Most of these rules, exceptions, and scales were put in place to prevent specific loopholes and points of abuse by executives (as the base year compensation shows perfectly).  What abuse does the cap hold rule prevent?  And why is the salary that counts against the team greater than their previous year's salary?

Re: Salary Cap Situation and FAQs: 2008 Edition
« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2008, 06:07:06 PM »

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Good work Roy --- a similar spreadsheet i keep is the basis for my comments on Celticsstufflive...

Here's a question that I'm unclear on that maybe you can help with. It may be a case of bad reporting in the media but i do think there's something i'm missing (actually i think i figured it out in writing it, but maybe i'm wrong):

Of options (player or team) Larry Coon says (Q #50):

Quote
Options can occur only when one season remains on the contract, while ETO's can occur when two seasons remain if the contract is for six seasons.

However in the story about James Jones signing today, the Sun Sentinel wrote:

Quote
Jones signed a contract that guarantees at least two seasons with the Heat at a starting salary of about $4 million. The contract also has three additional years, but allows the Heat maneuverability for the 2010 free-agency period, when its own Dwyane Wade, as well as LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Kobe Bryant and Amare Stoudemire could hit the open market.

this reminds me of the contract that Antoine Walker got when we S&T him to the Heat after his 2nd stint here --- I thought the final 2 years were described as options.

It occurs to me know that in both cases the final 3 and 2 years respectively for Jones and Walker were probably, simply not guaranteed.

I guess then i don't understand why a player would agree to a non-guaranteed portion -- if that in fact is the mechanism MIA is using. Particularly Walker, he had to know he'd never get those last 2 years --- i think MIA even said as much when signing him -- so what's the practical advantage?
 
How and why does this differ from a team option? Again either practically or technically?

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Re: Salary Cap Situation and FAQs: 2008 Edition
« Reply #10 on: July 10, 2008, 12:42:35 PM »

Offline Roy Hobbs

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Interesting question, Gainsville, and one I don't have a clear answer for.  I read the section on options / ETOs in the CBA, and Coon seems to have it correct.  The answer has to be, as you suggest, that what is being in described in Jones' deal are non-guaranteed years. 

The league seems to treat these differently, although I'm not sure what the basis for it is.  For instance, an option cannot, under any circumstances, be tied to performance incentives.  However, we know that with the Celtics, Leon Powe's contract had various levels of guaranteed money based upon those incentives.  The "option" vs. "non-guaranteed" salary distinction you came up with seems to be right on.  In practical effect, though, a non-guaranteed contract is essentially of the same effect as a team option.

==============================

thelittleticket, I think the rationale is as follows:  The league has a salary cap, because it wants all teams to be (roughly) on a level playing field.  If the league didn't have cap holds and similar restrictions, there would be nothing stopping a team from having all of its free agents expire in one year.  The team could then sign, say, five marquis free agents with its cap space (which would be roughly $60 million).  The team could then use "Bird rights" to resign its own free agents, putting together a super-team.

This makes a mockery of the concept of Bird rights, which were put in place to allow teams to retain their own superstars, rather than losing them to free agency.  To allow these teams to manipulate that system to both bring in new players while at the same time retaining their own would essentially be endorsing teams to circumvent the idea of a cap in the first place.

Thus, what the league does is it assumes you're going to bring back your own free agents.  The league also assumes that you're going to give them a raise, based upon market conditions.  This is the cap hold discussed above.  If you don't want to retain that player, you can simply renounce his rights, releasing that hold.  Essentially, this rule prevents teams from eating their cake and having it too.

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Re: Salary Cap Situation and FAQs: 2008 Edition
« Reply #11 on: July 19, 2008, 10:08:24 PM »

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o'byrant is making 1.5 mill next year isn't he?

Re: Salary Cap Situation and FAQs: 2008 Edition
« Reply #12 on: July 19, 2008, 11:21:32 PM »

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Good break down and a bumpitty bump. The NBA is so bizarre the way it works, once you are over the salary cap, like almost the entire league, you are so constrained as to what you can pay for. This is why players get annoyed, when their only option is to sign a contract that fits into a teams payroll rather than their best interests.

Re: Salary Cap Situation and FAQs: 2008 Edition
« Reply #13 on: July 19, 2008, 11:47:31 PM »

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o'byrant is making 1.5 mill next year isn't he?

The Herald and Fox Sports reported two years at the minimum, the Globe reported 2 years, $3 million.  There's been no confirmation either way.

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Re: Salary Cap Situation and FAQs: 2008 Edition
« Reply #14 on: July 21, 2008, 06:11:52 PM »

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o'byrant is making 1.5 mill next year isn't he?

The Herald and Fox Sports reported two years at the minimum, the Globe reported 2 years, $3 million.  There's been no confirmation either way.

For whatever it's worth, hoopshype has O'bryant with 1.5m next year and then 1.62m. I also thought there was some sort of team option, but hoopshype has none.

 

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