Report: NBA Contract Bonuses 'Most Likely' Will Be Prorated Due to COVID-19

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMay 29, 2020

Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid plays during an NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons, Wednesday, March 11, 2020, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Matt Slocum/Associated Press

Performance bonuses in NBA contracts will "most likely" be prorated if the 2019-20 regular season is ultimately cut short when the league decides how to finish the campaign amid the coronavirus pandemic.

ESPN's Bobby Marks reported the update Thursday:  

"Sources told ESPN that the most likely outcome will be similar to how the league handled bonuses during the lockout-shortened season in 2011-12. Contract incentives initially intended for 82 games were prorated to account for the 66-game season. For example, a player with a $500,000 bonus in his contract for playing in 70 games qualified for the bonus if he played in 56 games. However, performance bonuses based on averages—such as shooting percentages—were not adjusted."

Perhaps no player faced a more important incentive than Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid, who could fully guarantee the final three seasons of his five-year, $147.7 million contract if he reached 1,650 minutes played during the regular season.

Embiid has played 1,329 minutes through 44 appearances this season (30.2 MPG). That leaves 19.5 percent of the minutes to play with 20.7 percent of the Sixers' regular-games remaining, meaning he'd satisfy the requirement if the NBA goes directly to the playoffs upon resumption and bonuses are prorated.

Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Nets' Kevin Durant is scheduled to receive $1 million if the team qualifies for the playoffs, even though he hasn't played any games during his debut season with the team while recovering from a ruptured Achilles.

The Nets were in seventh place in the Eastern Conference with a 30-34 record when play was halted March 11. They are six games clear of the ninth-placed Washington Wizards, so he'd be a virtual lock to earn the bonus if the regular season is finished. But a play-in tournament could complicate the situation.

Those are two of the more high-profile bonus situations of many.

The league hasn't announced return-to-play plans, though players have started to resume individual workouts at team facilities ahead of a potential resumption of action.

An NBA Board of Governors meeting is scheduled for Friday, which could shed further light on the outlook for the remainder of the season.

Bleacher Report's David Gardner interviews athletes and other sports figures for the podcast How to Survive Without Sports.