In recent years, the NBA has implemented a new contract designation known as the “two-way contract.” This type of contract allows players to split their time between an NBA team and its G League affiliate. Two-way contracts have become increasingly popular among teams looking for cost-effective ways to develop young talent while maintaining roster flexibility.
For example, during the 2019-2020 season, Miami Heat player Kendrick Nunn was signed to a two-way contract before eventually earning a full-time spot on the team’s roster. Nunn went on to become a vital part of the Heat’s success in reaching the NBA Finals that year. However, despite their growing popularity, many fans and analysts still struggle with understanding how two-way contracts work and how they impact player salaries. In this article, we will explore the details of two-way contracts and their implications for both players and teams in terms of salaries and roster management.
What are Two-Way Contracts?
NBA teams are always searching for ways to optimize their roster while staying within the constraints of the salary cap. Two-way contracts have emerged as a solution that allows NBA teams to retain players who show potential for development, without impacting their cap space.
For example, consider player X who was drafted in the second round and signed with an NBA team on a two-way contract. As part of this agreement, he would spend most of his time playing for the team’s G League affiliate but also be eligible to play up to 50 games for his parent club during the regular season. This arrangement not only provides valuable game-time experience for player X but also gives the NBA team flexibility to develop him according to their specific needs.
Two-way contracts come with several benefits and restrictions that affect both players and teams alike. Here are some key points worth noting:
- Players under two-way contracts earn significantly less than those on standard NBA deals.
- There is no limit on how many times a player can be transferred between a G League affiliate and its parent club.
- The number of days that a player spends with an NBA team can’t exceed 45 days in a season.
- Only players with four or fewer years of experience are eligible to sign two-way contracts.
The following table summarizes the differences between standard NBA contracts and two-way contracts:
|Standard Contract||Two-Way Contract|
|Salary||$925,258 minimum||Up to $449,115|
|Length||Minimum one year||Maximum two years|
|Days allowed with main club||Unlimited||Maximum 45|
Overall, two-way contracts offer opportunities for young players looking to break into professional basketball while providing cost-effective solutions for NBA teams trying to fill gaps in their rosters.
Who is eligible for a Two-Way Contract? With these basic concepts understood,
Who is eligible for a Two-Way Contract?
As we have seen, two-way contracts are a relatively new concept in the NBA. These contracts allow teams to sign players that can split their time between the NBA and its G League affiliate. But what impact do these contracts have on salaries? Let’s take a closer look.
To begin with, it is important to note that two-way contract players earn significantly less than regular NBA players. The minimum salary for a two-way player during the 2020-21 season was $449,115 (prorated based on days spent in each league), while the minimum salary for an NBA player was $925,258. This means that many players who sign two-way contracts are doing so primarily for the opportunity to develop their skills and potentially earn a full-time roster spot in the future.
One example of this is Alex Caruso of the Los Angeles Lakers. In his first year as a professional basketball player, Caruso signed a two-way contract with the Lakers’ G League team, the South Bay Lakers. He played well enough to earn himself several call-ups to the NBA squad throughout the season and eventually signed a standard NBA contract at the end of the year.
Despite offering lower salaries than standard NBA contracts, there are some benefits to signing a two-way deal:
- Two-way players can spend up to 45 days with their parent club without counting against the team’s salary cap.
- They also receive prorated benefits such as health care and housing allowances.
- Players on two-way deals have more flexibility when it comes to being called up or sent down; they can be moved back and forth between leagues an unlimited number of times throughout the season.
- Finally, because they are not subject to waivers like other G League players, two-way players have greater job security.
It is worth noting that not all teams choose to utilize two-way contracts equally. Some organizations prefer instead to use their G-League affiliates solely as training grounds for younger players. However, other teams have been more aggressive in signing two-way talent and developing them into key contributors.
The following table shows the number of days that several notable two-way players spent with their parent clubs during the 2020-21 season:
|Player||Parent Club||NBA Days|
|Moses Brown||Oklahoma City||43|
This data illustrates just how important two-way contracts can be for teams looking to develop young talent without sacrificing valuable salary cap space.
In terms of impact on salaries, two-way contracts offer a lower but still viable option for players to enter professional basketball while providing benefits such as flexibility, job security and prorated benefits. Now let’s dive deeper into understanding “How do Two-Way Contracts Work?”
How do Two-Way Contracts work?
As previously mentioned, Two-Way Contracts are a relatively new phenomenon in the NBA. The impact of these contracts on salaries cannot be understated. Let us consider an example to better understand this.
Suppose that Player A and Player B have similar levels of experience and skillsets. However, Player A has been signed to a standard contract with a team while Player B is signed to a Two-Way Contract. In this scenario, it is highly likely that Player A will earn significantly more than Player B due to their differing contracts.
The above example highlights how Two-Way Contracts can affect player salaries. But how exactly do they work?
Firstly, players on Two-Way Contracts spend most of their time playing for their respective G League teams where they earn considerably less compared to those on standard NBA contracts. Secondly, these players can only spend up to 45 days with their parent NBA team during the regular season before being required to either sign a standard contract or return to the G League.
Despite the potential salary disparities between those on Two-Way versus standard NBA contracts, there are some benefits associated with signing such agreements. Here are just a few examples:
- Players on Two-Way Contracts have greater flexibility as they can play for both their parent NBA team and G League affiliate.
- Teams benefit from having access to additional talent without necessarily needing to clear roster space.
- For younger or unproven players, Two-Way Contracts provide an opportunity for exposure and development at both the G League and NBA levels.
- From a financial perspective, teams may save money by signing players to lower-cost Two-Way Contracts instead of committing significant sums towards traditional contracts.
To further illustrate the differences between traditional and Two-Way Contracts in terms of compensation, refer to Table 1 below:
|Standard Contract||Two-Way Contract|
|Maximum Salary (Years of Service)||$41,358,814 (10+ years)||$449,115 (2 years or less)|
Table 1: Comparison of Standard and Two-Way Contract Salaries
In summary, although players on standard NBA contracts generally earn higher salaries than those on Two-Way Contracts, there are still some benefits to signing the latter. These agreements offer greater flexibility for both teams and players while providing opportunities for development and exposure at multiple levels.
What are the benefits of a Two-Way Contract?
As previously mentioned, NBA Two-Way contracts allow players to split their time between the NBA and its G-League affiliate. Let’s take a look at how these contracts can impact an athlete’s salary.
For example, consider player X who has signed a two-way contract with an NBA team for $250,000 per year. If he spends most of his time in the G-League, he would earn a prorated portion of that amount based on the number of days spent on the NBA roster versus the G-League roster. On average, this amounts to around $4,500 per day on the NBA roster and $525 per day on the G-League roster.
While there are benefits to signing a two-way contract such as more playing opportunities and exposure to both leagues , it is important to note that not all teams offer them. Additionally, players cannot negotiate higher salaries for two-way contracts, nor do they have access to certain bonuses or incentives like traditional NBA players.
Furthermore, since two-way contracts count towards each team’s salary cap but only partially count against luxury tax payments , some teams may be hesitant to sign multiple players onto such agreements due to financial constraints.
Here is a list of potential impacts:
- Players could potentially earn less money than if they were solely signed to an NBA contract.
- Teams may prioritize using their limited two-way slots for specific positions or skill sets.
- The uncertainty surrounding whether a player will spend more time in the G-League or NBA can make it difficult for agents and athletes when negotiating deals.
- Certain clauses within standard NBA contracts (e.g., Exhibit 10) can incentivize taking non-two way options over accepting these types of pacts.
To provide further insight into how Two-Way Contracts work financially, here is a table outlining estimated earnings based on different percentages of days spent with either league:
|Days Spent in NBA||Days Spent in G-League||Estimated Earnings|
|45 (50%)||45 (50%)||$186,750|
|60 (66.7%)||30 (33.3%)||$215,025|
|90 (100%)||0 (0%)||$250,000|
Overall, while Two-Way Contracts offer advantages for both players and teams , it is important to consider the potential limitations that may come with signing such agreements.
What are the limitations of a Two-Way Contract?
After understanding the benefits of a Two-Way Contract, it is equally important to acknowledge the limitations that come with this type of agreement. For instance, players who sign for NBA Two-Way Contracts cannot earn as much money as those on standard contracts. This means that even if they play well and contribute significantly to their team’s success, they will still earn less than other players.
One such example is Jordan Loyd, who signed a Two-Way Contract with the Toronto Raptors in 2018. Despite playing an integral role in the Raptors’ G-League affiliate team – Raptors 905- he was only able to make limited appearances in the NBA during his time under contract with them .
Here are some additional limitations associated with two-way contracts:
- Players cannot negotiate salaries at any point in the season.
- They can be called up or sent down between teams multiple times throughout the season.
- These contracts do not include health insurance benefits.
- There is no guarantee that players under these agreements will have regular playing time.
A table highlighting the differences between Standard Player Contracts (SPC) and Two-Way Contracts (TWC) further illustrates how different these types of deals really are.
|Salary||Minimum $925k/year||Maximum $449k/year|
|Length||Can range from one year to five years||Can only last for one or two seasons|
|Playing Time Guarantee?||Yes||No|
It is clear that while there are many potential benefits to signing a Two-Way Contract, there are also significant drawbacks. Ultimately, players need to weigh their options carefully before deciding which route to take when pursuing professional basketball opportunities.
In conclusion, it is essential to understand both sides of Two-Way Contracts before making any decisions regarding them. The next section will dive into how these contracts affect team salary caps, providing even more insight into the complexities of this type of agreement.
How do Two-Way Contracts affect team salary caps?
How do Two-Way Contracts affect team salary caps?
As previously discussed, Two-Way Contracts offer a unique opportunity for players to split their time between the NBA and G League. However, there are limitations that come with this type of contract. In this section, we will explore how two-way contracts affect team salary caps.
To better understand the impact of two-way contracts on salaries, let’s consider an example. Player X is signed to a two-way contract with Team Y. He spends 60 days with Team Y in the NBA and 90 days playing for the team’s G League affiliate. During his time in the NBA, he earns $200,000 while earning $75,000 during his time in the G League.
One significant limitation of a two-way contract is that it does not count against the team’s salary cap when a player is playing in the G League. This means that if a player earns more money than their allotted two-way contract amount while playing in the NBA, it can significantly impact the team’s overall salary cap space.
Another limitation of two-way contracts is that they do not provide any protection for players who become injured while playing in either league. Unlike standard NBA contracts where teams must pay out guarantees even if a player becomes injured, two-way contracts do not have this same level of protection.
In addition to these limitations, there are also financial implications for players signing two-way deals:
- Players on Two-Way Contracts earn considerably less than those on regular NBA rosters.
- The maximum number of games allowed under a Two-Way Contract has decreased from 45 to 30 per season due to COVID-19.
- There is no guarantee that players will be called up to play in the NBA at all during their time under a Two-Way Contract.
- Teams may waive or convert Two-Way Contract players into full-time roster spots at any point throughout the season.
To summarize our discussion thus far: two-way contracts offer opportunities for players to gain valuable experience in both the NBA and G League, but they also come with limitations that can impact team salary caps and provide less financial security for players.
|Two-Way Contract Limitations|
|Not counted against team salary cap when player is playing in the G League.|
|Players earn significantly less than those on regular NBA rosters.|
|No guarantee of being called up to play in the NBA.|
In conclusion, two-way contracts are a unique opportunity for aspiring basketball players to showcase their skills and gain experience in both the NBA and G League. However, it’s important to understand the limitations associated with these contracts, including how they affect team salary caps and provide less financial security for athletes.