Jusuf Nurkic revisited
August 7th, 2014
This post from yesterday talks about how Nuggets draftee Jusuf Nurkic was set to receive less than 120% of the rookie scale, the customary amount. And in doing so, it was mentioned that he would be the highest first round pick to ever do so.
Not quite. It turns out this is a misreporting on my part. Nurkic will receive less than the salary of the 120% rookie scale amount, but he will count on the cap for the 120% amount. Nurkic’s buyout with Cedevita was for larger than the amount NBA teams can pay cap-exempt ($600,000 this season), and while teams are eligible to pay more than that amount in an international player’s buyout, they must do so by putting any amount greater than that paid into the cap hit in the form of a signing bonus. This is not especially to do in a rookie scale contract, with its fixed parameters, but it is doable if sufficiently small. The figures listed for Nurkic were an even $350,000 smaller than what the full rookie scale would have been, and that is the extra amount of buyout Denver paid, charged as a signing bonus.
These rules were known to me, of course, and the practice is not uncommon. Bismack Biyombo, Andrea Bargnani and several others have been in this same situation, getting less than the full 120% in actual salary yet counting against the cap as the full 120% (and to anyone other than the people signing and receiving the cheques, i.e. us team building fans, only the cap number matters). Nevertheless, it was understood in the instance that the figures given were the actual cap hits and thus included the buyout signing bonus. It was counter checked and passed both tests. And yet now the opposite is said to be true, that Nurkic is signed for the full 120%, and that the whole issue is irrelevant.
There is a process we (I) go through in order to get salary information. It does not always work.