Every regular season, particularly as it nears its tense, competitive climax, NBA teams look to sign players to 10-day contracts.
There are often complex reasons behind these signings and they are not always treated as just a chance to get some fresh legs on the court when others are flagging.
In this article, we will explain the rules and limitations of 10-day contracts and briefly talk about other kinds of contracts.
We will also discuss the most common reasons to sign a player for only 10 days and how they can benefit both teams and players.
WHAT IS A 10-DAY CONTRACT?
As the name suggests, a 10-day contract is one that has a term of 10 days or 3 games, whichever is longer.
10-day contracts can only be signed from January 5th of any regular NBA season, and cannot extend beyond its final game.
Any NBA team can only agree on a 10-day contract with the same player twice in any given season. After that, they must decide if they want to keep that individual for the remainder of the season. The team is also limited to the number of 10-day contracts it can hold at any time.
This depends on the situation regarding active and inactive players on its roster.
Once a 10-day contract expires, the team must either keep that player in their squad or release him. This is mandatory and non-negotiable as per the terms and conditions of the NBA.
Read the latest Odds on the Rookie of the Year here at The Jump Hub to see the current favourites and which players to keep an eye on this season.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN ‘STANDARD’ AND ‘HARDSHIP’ 10-DAY CONTRACTS?
As we talk about 10-day contracts it is important to distinguish between standard and hardship contracts. NBA teams may be given a hardship exemption in times of need.
The hardship exemption represents a temporary roster spot that allows teams to exceed the 15-man roster limit in times of need. This need might be because of multiple players being out injured or sick. As soon as enough players are fit to return to fill the roster requirements once more, the temporary exemption is lifted.
Under standard 10-day contract rules, players can only sign with the same team twice. Hardship deals give players more than 2 opportunities.
Standard 10-day contracts require that a team has at least one place in its 15-man roster. However, if that same team is guaranteed a hardship exception, then it can add more players.
Standard 10-day contracts do count against a team’s salary cap. However, the relatively small amounts aren’t often problematic unless the team is sitting right on its salary limit.
Hardship 10-day contracts do not count towards the salary cap
HOW MUCH CAN PLAYERS ACCOMPLISH DURING A 10-DAY CONTRACT?
One of the main problems that 10-day contracted players face is that they are often only given a few minutes of play-time during those 3 games to showcase their talents. The logistical, tactical manoeuvrings of NBA teams are myriad. The signing of a 10-day contract may have been more strategic in terms of the roster than the player might hope. They only have a very short time to familiarize themselves with the terminology that a particular team uses for sets and play calls.
They have to go above and beyond the others to be motivational and positive behind the scenes and on the bench. A good work ethic and attitude are essential and even then it may all be for naught. The pressure on any 10-day contract player to perform to their best abilities and shine in a short few minutes on the court must be extremely stressful. It is not something we envy.
They do get paid a minimum of $6,000 per day for it though, even as a rookie.
The river that we are crying for them in The Jump Hub office is not a wide one…
HOW COMMON ARE 10-DAY CONTRACTS?
10-day contracts are one of the most common forms of NBA teams signing players. They generally happen during the second half of the season, when teams are looking to enhance their rosters.
Over the past 15 years, there have been an average of 51 such contracts signed per season. It is a general assumption that 20 to 40% of those signings will turn into deals that last at least until the end of the season.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF 10-DAY CONTRACTS?
The NBA season is notoriously long and demanding. An 82-game regular season from October through June (if the team makes the NBA Playoffs) is a tough ask with only a 15-man roster.
Any team in the NBA can utilize 10-day contracts for a number of different reasons.
A primary reason why an NBA team might want to sign 10-day contract players is because of injury. Just as the NBA season enters its decisive phase, many teams are struggling with injured or burnt-out players. 10-day contracts give them a chance to recover and regain strength and focus for the latter stages of the season and the NBA Playoffs if things have gone well.
10-day contracts help to overcome such issues and ensure that the team continues to meet minimum roster requirements
The COVID-affected 2021/22 season caused a great many issues right across the board. Health and safety protocols, isolation bubbles and the like really put pressure on many NBA team rosters and game schedules. Teams that found themselves short-staffed and having to play games in rapid succession were extremely grateful for the existence of 10-day contracts. Seats on the bench were able to be filled while the regular players recovered and dropped any infection.
Another valid reason is that the player could be a potential long-term signing. What better way to interact with the guy and assess his talents than to have him work for you for a short period? This suits the NBA teams down to the ground as they can gauge how the player behaves and performs as part of the team. It is unusual but not unheard of, for a player to be offered a more permanent contract after giving his best effort during a 10-day contract and impressing those who count.
Not a great situation for the player in the long term
However, it does provide them with a chance to show off their talents and prove that they belong in the NBA.
If a team likes a player but isn’t sure how they will transition to the NBA then a 10-day contract is the perfect solution. Maybe the coach wants to see how a particular player will fit in with the organization and culture of their team. As with any high-profile sport where individuals are paid extraordinary sums of money, egos and attitudes can sometimes be problematic.
Enter into a 10-day contract with the guy you’ve had your eye on. Take a closer look and see whether he represents a decent proposition who will fit in or a potential hand-grenade in the harmony of your dressing room. Any shenanigans and you know he’s out of the door 10 days later without any real downsides for the team.
Teams that are in a transitional phase or are rebuilding will often cycle through several 10-day players. As previously discussed, it constitutes an extended tryout period if they are looking to recruit for the following season. This is particularly true of teams that have accepted they will not make the post-season games and can already begin to focus on the next NBA regular season.
Those teams that are still competing hard to reach the NBA Playoffs and beyond are known to search for experienced veterans. They can adapt to their system easily and potentially make significant contributions during any postseason run.
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Throughout NBA history there has been a slew of talented players who found themselves signed to 10-day contracts
Those players have included:
Manute Bol, Alonzo Gee, Kurt Rambis
Mario Elie, Shaun Livingston, Ronnie Price
Chris Andersen, Kevin Willis, Quincy Acy
Spud Webb, Jordan Crawford, Bruce Bowen
Kenyon Martin, Archie Goodwin, Raja Bell
Toney Douglas, Juwan Howard, Anthony Mason
Chuck Hayes, Gary Neal, Matt Barnes
Kenny Smith, Tyler Johnson, Lance Stephenson
Jarrett Jack, Joel Anthony, Ray McCallum, John Salley
WHAT OTHER REASONS ARE THERE FOR TEAMS TO LOOK AT 10-DAY CONTRACTS?
Because of how small a 10-day contract is (relative to other NBA contracts, of course, it’s still more than most people earn in a year) in terms of actual pay, an NBA teams’ salary cap is not adversely affected.
Teams like the reduced legal requirements and hassle that 10-day contracts provide. The waiver process does not apply to them.
HOW MUCH ARE PLAYERS PAID ON 10-DAY CONTRACTS?
If a player signs a 10-day contract then his financial compensation is pro-rated and cannot be less than his minimum player salary. This is calculated according to age and experience. The list of incremental salaries for 10-day contracts is as follows:
Experience – salary
Rookie – $61,528
1 year – $99,020
2 years – $110,998
3 years – $114,990
4 years – $118,983
5 years – $128,963
6 years – $138,945
7 years – $148,926
8 years – $158,907
9 years – $159,698
10+ years – $175,668
In this article we take a look at the Cost Per Expected NBA Championship Ranking and also compare some of the highest paid players in the NBA.
WHAT OTHER KINDS OF CONTRACTS ARE AVAILABLE?
All NBA players are required to sign the league’s standard contract. Depending on their years of service in the league, skills, and other factors, players can still have a wide range of rights within the remit of that standard contract.
A Two-Way Contract is effectively a contract between an NBA franchise and a player that stipulates that the player will be compensated according to the league in which he plays.
Beginning in the 2017–18 season, the National Basketball Association allowed two-way contracts between NBA teams and their G League affiliates. They are intended for teams that would like to keep a player on their books without having to sign him to a full-time contract or use up a roster position.
The two-way contract system assists those players who go undrafted but only want to play basketball in the NBA and not overseas. Some players that have proven themselves during their two-way contract period have been given a rest of season contract. This does necessitate the removal of another player from the roster if the maximum of 15 is to be maintained.
A Two-Way Contract cannot exceed 2 seasons in length and cannot be extended or renegotiated. It cannot include an option or a provision for early termination, nor contain any bonuses. It cannot be signed after January 15 of any season.
UNIFORM PLAYER CONTRACT
The Uniform Player Contract is the standard contract between a team and a player.
There are several non-negotiable sections of the contract and some that can be negotiated. Aside from the major negotiable consideration (compensation), some of the other elements include:
Compensation protection if the team terminates the player’s contract.
A player’s right to receive his base compensation when he is re-injured with an issue that existed before the contract was signed.
Generally, all contracts or extensions may only cover 4 seasons from the date that they’re signed.
STANDARD NBA CONTRACT
A Standard NBA Contract is any uniform player contract that is not two-way. Two-way contracts are required to include an option for it to be converted into a standard NBA contract. This is called a “standard NBA contract conversion” and is important for players. It represents the way that they will find themselves on a roster at full NBA salary if it happens.
There are other contracts that are relatively self-explanatory, such as:
Rookie scale contract
Designated veteran player contract
These are amendments made to any existing contract during its existing term. A player’s salary may be reviewed and increased if agreed. It may not decrease.
A contract of 4 seasons may not be renegotiated until 3 years have passed. The same applies to renegotiations. A contract may not be renegotiated for 3 years if it has already been done once (if more than 5% was agreed upon the first time)
Contracts may not be renegotiated between March 1st and June 30th.
As the name suggests, extensions add seasons to a contract’s existing term.
Most of the players who find themselves running the gauntlet of 10-day contracts leave the league without having made much impact. However, there are some who take the opportunity by the scruff of the neck and wring everything they can out of it.
Players like Isaiah Thomas, Anthony Mason, and Avery Johnson would probably agree that they might not be in the positions they are today without the opportunity that 10-day contracts afforded them.