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More revelations on how Nets manipulated salary cap, this time with bonuses

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2019 NBA All-Star Game Photo by Tom O’Connor/NBAE via Getty Images

In the latest revelation about how the Nets manipulated the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement, Zach Lowe and Bobby Marks write that the team inserted bonuses in both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant’s new contracts. As a result, Brooklyn was able to squeeze out just enough cap space to sign DeAndre Jordan and rookie Nic Claxton.

According to “contract data” obtained by ESPN, Irving’s bonuses are deemed “unlikely” while Durant’s are seen as likely. The differentiation is critical since “unlikely” bonuses are not included in a player’s cap hit ... while “likely” bonuses are. The distinction is based on a player’s history.

Lowe and Marks write Irving’s contract is especially interesting in that it includes eight separate incentives -- $125,000 each. Irving’s initial salary for 2019-20, they note, is $31,720,000 -- exactly $1 million short of his maximum. Hitting all eight bonuses would make up the difference.

Some of the trigger points for the bonuses are tougher than others.

  • He appears in at least 70 regular-season games.
  • He appears in at least 60 regular-season games and averages fewer than 2.4 turnovers per game. Irving has averaged 2.6 turnovers per game over his career, and between 2.3 and 2.7 in each of his past six seasons.
  • He appears in at least 60 regular-season games and attempts at least 4.6 free throws per game. Irving has averaged 4.4 free throws per game for his career, and has fallen below the 4.6 mark in each of his past two seasons.
  • He shoots 88.5 percent or better from the free throw line in the regular season. Irving is a career 87.5 percent free throw shooter. He has cracked the 88.5 percent mark in three of his eight career seasons.
  • Makes at least 2.8 3-pointers per game in the regular season. Irving has accomplished that just once in eight seasons. He has averaged 2.1 made 3s per game over his career.
  • He commits fewer than 2.1 fouls per game in the regular season. His career average: 2.2.
  • The Nets score at least 114 points per 100 possessions in the regular season with Irving on the floor.

As Lowe and Marks note... “The same eight incentives repeat, at slightly higher dollar increments, in every season of Irving’s deal, per contract data.”

Durant’s incentives are fewer and are more team-oriented ... since he will be out most if not all of next season. Durant will receive a $1 million bonus -- raising his salary to the maximum -- if any one of the following occur:

  • The Nets make the playoffs.
  • The Nets win 43 or more games.
  • Durant plays in at least 50 regular-season games.
  • Durant makes the All-Star team.

Capologists like Marks and Albert Nahmad have commended the Nets front office for how they got around their limited cap space, primarily through the sequencing of their trades and signings. Now, they’ve added another wrinkle.

As NetsDaily reported two days ago, based on data from Early Bird Rights, that both players have 3+1 deals, that is four year deals with the fourth year a player option.