Omer Asik’s Contract Incentives

Published: December 2, 2015

When news first broke that Omer Asik would be signing a contract extension with the New Orleans Pelicans, it was originally reported as a 5-year, $60 million deal. That estimation was quickly proven to be an overstatement, as the deal’s total value and length continued to trend downward. Before getting to what the incentives in Asik’s contract actually are, here is what you need to know:

  • Full value: ~$58 million over 5 seasons. This amount consists of:
    • Guaranteed value: ~$41 million over 4 seasons, with an additional ~$3 million guaranteed in the 5th year (total of ~$44 million)
    • Non-guaranteed value: ~$9 million in the 5th year
    • Incentives value: $1 million per season (total of $5 million)

The $1 million per season of incentives in Omer Asik’s contract are considered “unlikely” incentives. What this term means is very simple: they are incentives that Asik failed to meet in the prior season, and therefore is not included in the team’s cap figure. Had he achieved them in 2014-15, they would be considered “likely” incentives and thus included in the Pelicans’ salary projection. Should Asik achieve any of the incentives in a given season, they then become considered “likely” for the following season and would then be included in that next year’s team salary projection. Any earned incentives will count towards the league salary cap and luxury tax amounts.

Omer Asik’s Incentives

  • $250,000: Makes any of the 3 All-NBA teams (must also play at least 65 regular season games)
  • $250,000: Makes either of the NBA all-defensive teams
  • $250,000: Plays in the All-Star Game
  • $100,000: Wins the NBA title while playing at least 65 regular season games
  • $75,000: Makes the NBA Finals while playing at least 65 regular season games
  • $75,000: Makes the Conference Finals while playing at least 65 regular season games
  • $25,000: Wins at least 56 games while playing at least 65 regular season games

TOTAL: $1,025,000

Note: You’ll notice that Asik’s total attainable incentives exceed the limit of $1 million, but it is legal because the maximum amount that he can earn is still $1 million. For example, even if he were to achieve every single incentive on this list, he would only earn the max allowable amount of $1 million.

Key Takeaway

The main takeaway here, obviously, is that the majority of these incentives aren’t just unlikely; they seem very close to impossible, especially at the moment. Even before Asik started off the season so poorly, the chances of him taking home any of that first $750,000 during any year of his contract were incredibly slim. The last $275,000 is based on team performance rather than individual performance (as long as he plays in enough games), so if everything goes right for his team, he could potentially see some of that money in a future year. That being said, the most likely scenario is that Asik doesn’t see a dime of this incentive money until (at best) year 3 or 4 of his contract, which the Pelicans would likely be happy to pay if it meant the team had reached the Western Conference Finals or NBA Finals.

Moving Forward

While Omer Asik’s contract looks horrific right now, the team and its fans can rest a bit easier knowing that the overwhelmingly likely total value of this deal is 4 years and $41 million (with an additional $3 million cap hit in year 5), not 5 years and $58 million. With the cap set to jump up to $89 million next season, the second season of Asik’s deal (~$10 million) would occupy about 11% of the salary cap, which is the equivalent of about a $7.5 million salary under this season’s $70 million cap. The projection for the following season (2017-18) is substantially higher than that ($108 million!), but that will likely change after the CBA is renegotiated.

The bottom line: while Asik’s deal is certainly bad value when compared to his current level of production, it is absolutely not a franchise-crippling amount for the New Orleans Pelicans.


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