7 Most Ridiculous Contract Clauses in NBA History

Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistMay 4, 2012

7 Most Ridiculous Contract Clauses in NBA History

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    Major League Baseball is the king of crazy contract clauses.

    I mean, who can forget about the clause in Rollie Fingers' contract that the Oakland A's had to pay for his mustache wax for that glorious handlebar mustache?

    However, it's not just baseball players that have all the fun. There are plenty of NBA contracts in recent years with rather ridiculous clauses and performance bonuses.

    Some bonuses on contracts make sense, like rookies getting bonuses for playing in the NBA Summer League.

    But some of them are just downright strange—like a built-in bonus for Nick Collison if he wins MVP. Is that really necessary?

    Anyway, here are some of the more ridiculous NBA contract clauses in recent years and a few from a while back that give me a chuckle.

Jordan Gets Paid Basketball Money for Playing Baseball

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    One would think that when Michael Jordan left the Bulls to play for the Chicago White Sox's farm team, he would have been leaving quite a bit of money on the table.

    After all, going from being the best basketball player in the NBA to being something like the 846th-best baseball player in MiLB is quite a leap.

    Well, apparently Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who also owned the Chicago White Sox, went ahead and paid Jordan the $4 million he would have made with the Bulls in the time that he was playing baseball. 

    Not too bad for a guy who barely cracked the Mendoza Line.

Tony Battie's Strange Clause Combinations

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    Back in 2009, the NBA was full of odd incentives. Players were given mediocrity incentives, crazy shooting-percentage combination incentives—and then there are Tony Battie's incentives.

    Battie, then on the Nets, had a base salary of just over $6 million, but he was owed an extra $100,000 if he played in 50 games and averaged eight rebounds, another $100,000 if he averaged five free-throw attempts in those games and an extra $100,000 if he was active for 50 games and his team made the playoffs.

    By the way, Battie played in just 15 games in the 2009-10 season, so he ended up getting none of that extra dough.

Matt Bonner's Math Test

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    We all know that for a big man, Matt Bonner is one heck of a shooter. He led the league in three-point percentage a year ago, and he consistently shoots around 47 percent from the field, 41 percent from beyond the arc and 80 percent from the free throw line.

    However, back in the 2010 season the Spurs had an incentive as boring as Tim Duncan's dinner parties—if Bonner's combined shooting percentages equaled up to 169 percent, then the Red Rocket would go home with an extra $100,000.

    That might seem rather pedestrian, but Bonner's lifetime averages equal up to 167 percent, and this incentive was before he went off in the 2011 season.

    By the way, Bonner combined for just 157 percent shooting during the 2010 season, so he ended up with no extra money.

Baron Davis' Mediocrity Incentive

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    We all know the Clippers were hurting for anything good to happen before Chris Paul and Blake Griffin burst onto the scene, but two years ago they were offering Baron Davis contract incentives for a mediocre record.

    The Clippers were ready to give Baron $1 million if he played in at least 70 games and the team won 30 games. That's right—Los Angeles was willing to pay an extra million bucks for a 30-52 record.

    The best part about that incentive is that Davis beat the odds and played in 75 games, but the Clippers finished with just a 29-53 record.

Jordan's "Love-of-the-Game Clause"

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    Back in the early days of the booming baseball era, Babe Ruth was infamously suspended for barnstorming during the offseason. That is, he toured the country making extra money playing exhibition games in all corners of the nation, and even some outside of it.

    It makes sense that the league would be angry—the most marketable player in the game was risking injury for a few extra bucks.

    However, Michael Jordan had a clause in his contract that he was allowed to play basketball whenever he wanted to.

    Jordan could play in exhibition games, scrimmages or just a pickup game in a random park whenever he wanted—the only player that general manager Jerry Krause ever thought about giving this clause to.

Nick Collison for MVP and Other Crazy Clauses

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    My favorite contract clauses, by far, have to be the ones that offer oodles of money for winning awards to guys who have no chance of winning them.

    The most bizarre of these incentives was given to Nick Collison, who would be given an extra $100,000 if he were to win an MVP award.

    Hell, I'll start a pool and give Collison $100,000 myself if he ever gets a first-place vote.

    Other award incentives included Rafer Alston getting an extra $325,000 for making the All-Star team, Luke Ridnour getting $1.5 million if he wins Defensive Player of the Year and—my personal favorite—$500,000 to Adonal Foyle for winning MVP and another $500,000 if he wins NBA Finals MVP.

Too Fat to Ball?

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    Some of my favorite contract clauses are the so-called "weight" clauses in certain NBA players' contracts.

    The most recent weight clause came in Glen Davis' contract when he was with the Celtics. Davis would be given an extra $500,000 if he were to make an unspecified weight at certain points in the season.

    As a rookie for the Lakers, Derrick Caracter's salary nearly doubled if he were to make weight by the start of training camp, bringing his salary up to nearly $500,000 from $275,000.

    These weight clauses have been used throughout NBA history, and arguments have been made for and against them, but I think the only argument needed for weight clauses has to be Eddy Curry's tenure with the Knicks.

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