Free agency watch: Players on minimum contracts set for raises

Free agency watch: Players on minimum contracts set for raises

NBA Salaries

Free agency watch: Players on minimum contracts set for raises

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One of the most standard contracts for second-round picks and undrafted players are minimum deals that run for three-to-four seasons. Every so often a handful of these players emerge as rotation players and earn significant raises on their next contracts.

Here are some minimum players whose contracts are almost up and should get lucrative deals in free agency or through an extension. We also used ProFitX to view what these players should be earning based on their level of play, and evaluate if these players are in a position to earn such a raise with their current team.

Luguentz Dort (Oklahoma City)

Luguentz Dort Real-Time Contract by ProFitX

Luguentz Dort Real-Time Contract by ProFitX

Luguentz Dort has been one of the league’s most underpaid players as he’s in year three of a four-year minimum deal. Oklahoma City locked him into that deal after he proved himself on a two-way deal and has received the production of close to a $16 million player in him, according to ProFitX’s Real Time Contract for him.

Dort could potentially become a restricted free agent this offseason if the Thunder decline his $1.9 million team option for next season. This would allow them to re-sign him or match an offer sheet for him in 2022 versus allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent in 2023. Whether he becomes a free agent in 2022 or 2023, Oklahoma City will hold his full Bird rights.

He also becomes extension-eligible in March, allowing them to prevent him from becoming a free agent entirely. The Thunder can extend him for up to four years, $55.6 million with a $12.4 million starting salary that would replace his $1.9 million team option in 2022-23. Oklahoma City can also extend Dort for three-years, $40.2 million which Washington gave Daniel Gafford. It has equivalent yearly salaries as the other extension option minus the fourth year. This would have the Thunder exercise Dort’s team option would have the extension kick in for the 2023-24 season.

Jalen Brunson (Dallas)

Jalen Brunson Real-Time Contract by ProFitX

Jalen Brunson Real-Time Contract by ProFitX

Jalen Brunson continues to steadily improve and has become one of the most depended upon players on the Mavericks. He’s making a strong case for Sixth Man of the Year and should get a significant raise very soon. Brunson is currently extension-eligible and can also get up to the same four-year, $55.6 million figure Dort is eligible for. The annual cap hits from such a deal is comparable to what fellow top bench guard Derrick Rose is earning on his current deal.

Unlike Dort, Dallas did not give Brunson a team option on his fourth and current season where he’s earning $1.9 million. This will make him an unrestricted free agent this coming offseason, which could apply pressure to the Mavericks to get an extension done beforehand. If he becomes a free agent, he will have the opportunity to earn more than his maximum extension amount either from teams with cap space or from the Mavericks via his Bird rights.

Mitchell Robinson (New York)

Mitchell Robinson

Mitchell Robinson is on the final year of a four-year minimum deal and is currently extension-eligible. The Knicks had the chance to make him a restricted free agent in the 2021 offseason by declining his team option but chose to run through the entirety of his minimum deal. Because of this, Robinson is set to become an unrestricted free agent and there should be plenty of interest around the league. He is playing with a Real Time Contract of $7.9 million and offers should start at the $5 million range similar to what JaVale McGee got in the 2021 offseason. It’s also possible he earns an annual salary above that with most teams having access to the full mid-level exception this offseason projected at $10.1 million.

Cody Martin (Charlotte)

Cody Martin Real-Time Contract by ProFitX

Cody Martin Real-Time Contract by ProFitX

Cody Martin has seen an increased role for Charlotte as one of their high-minute players and top scorers off the bench. He’s played especially well as of late filling in for the many Hornets starters out due to health and safety protocols. He’s currently on the last year of his minimum deal but is playing with a Real Time Contract of $7.7 million, according to ProFitX. Martin is set to become a restricted free agent this offseason but is also currently extension-eligible. Martin should get a raise in the near future whether it’s in free agency or through an extension.

Caleb Martin (Charlotte)

Cody’s twin brother Caleb Martin is also performing with a similar Real Time Contract with the Miami Heat. After being cut by the Hornets, the Heat added him onto a two-way deal and is having a career year. He’s been a huge surprise for them and is one of their most dependable bench players. Miami will eventually have to convert Martin onto their regular-season roster as he’s already played in 24 of his 50 eligible games on his two-way clock.

The Heat has $2.5 million remaining of their mid-level exception which could allow them to give a four-year deal for up to $10.9 million, but they’d need to reduce payroll first since they’re just $256,443 below the luxury tax. He might be better off just signing a rest-of-season deal, then testing his market as a free agent after having such a strong season.

Garrison Mathews (Houston)

Garrison Mathews Real-Time Contract by ProFitX

Garrison Mathews Real-Time Contract by ProFitX

Garrison Mathews is another two-way player having a surprise breakout season who will need to be converted onto the regular season roster at some point. The Rockets are 7-2 since inserting him into their starting lineup where he is averaging 15.6 points and 3.5 three pointers per game on 41.5 percent shooting from three. He is playing with a Real-Time Contract of $7.6 million, but he could earn much more than that at some point if he sustains this over multiple seasons. Houston has $8 million remaining of their mid-level exception and are $9.3 million below the luxury tax. It’s possible he receives a significant portion of that mid-level exception and the Rockets lock him up to a long-term deal.

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