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Salary Cap Teaching Moment

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Disclaimer: If you're completely uninterested in how the NBA salary cap works, ignore this.

First, big ups to Jerry Zgoda over at the Strib for being the only consistent source with Wolves salary figures. Frankly, I tend to think Wolves coverage from the two major newspapers and the local TV stations leaves a lot to be desired. Not Zgoda.

He recently posted this info about Gomes' deal:

Officially, it’s for five years, although the Wolves have options after the second and third years and Gomes has the option after the fourth year. So the first two years are guaranteed, at $3.5 million next season and $3.8 million in 2009-2010. His salary jumps above $4 million after that if the team exercises its option. If Gomes remains a Timberwolf for all five seasons, the contract will approach $22 million.

Great stuff and more than I've found anywhere else. But, it doesn't tell the whole story.

First, regarding the "team options" on the the third and fourth years and the player option on the fifth year. According to Larry Coon's NBA CBA FAQ:

Team Options give the team the right to invoke the option year.  There can be only one option year (except in the case of rookie scale contracts), and the option year can't be for a lower salary than the previous season.

SO, one can reasonably infer that there aren't two team options, but rather those years are non-guaranteed (just like in Antoine Walker's contract). They could also be partially guaranteed (like Greg Buckner's contract). To the naked eye, they act just like team options, however with non-guaranteed years, there is no one specific date by which they must exercised (as there is with team options). The dates at which those years become guaranteed are most likely specified in the contract.

Also, you'll notice that Zgoda provides amounts for years 1 and 2, an estimate for year 3, no info on years 4 or 5, and an inference that the total contract is worth less than $22 million (including the non-guaranteed years and player option).

When re-signing their own free agents, teams can give up to 10.5% raises each year. However, as noted in the NBA CBA FAQ (I just like typing that), they're calculated based on the first year of the contract. Thus, year two can be up to 110.5% of the value of year one and year three can be up to 121% of the value of year one and so on. With these max raises and using the $3.5 million as a starting point, Gomes' contract might look like this:

2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 Total
$3,500,000 $3,867,500 $4,235,000 $4,602,500 $4970,000 $21,175,000

That roughly follows Zgoda's description, and although we probably won't know the precise numbers until another leak comes out it's the best guess I can come up with.

Small points, but worth noting as just an FYI and an explanation as to why I've done what I've done on the contract info page.