Basic life lesson: every dollar counts.
After the contracts of Isaiah Thomas and P.J. Tucker were signed, the exact structures of the deals weren’t completely known. Circling back to their deals a few weeks later just to cover all of our bases, it’s clear what the Suns are trying to do.
Thomas inked a four-year, $27 million contract with the Kings before being traded to the Suns for the rights to Alex Oriakhi and a trade exception. The fourth-year point guard has an interesting twist to his deal.
He’ll make the most this season at $7,238,606. Thomas will then pocket $6,912,869 in 2015-16, $6,587,132 in 2016-17 and $6,261,395 in the 2017-18 season., according to ShamSports.
It’s a simple but smart move for Phoenix. Average the deal out and he’ll be making $6.75 million per year. But that the first year of the deal is $1 million more costly than the last — and thus a $1 million larger hit to the salary cap — means a bit.
The Suns used the same strategy in Tucker’s deal. His three-year, $16.5 million contract averages out at $5.5 million per season, yet he’ll make $5.7 million next season, $5.5 million in 2015-16 and a partially-guaranteed $5.3 million in 2016-17. The final year will only guarantee $1.5 million of the deal.
The reasoning behind frontloading the deals is pretty simple. Phoenix has loads of cap space this season and can afford to spend a few million extra in salaries. Down the line, they’d rather have a few thousand of breathing room here or there to fill out a roster with a minimum contract.
Even if the Suns end up spending big in the next few seasons, hundreds of thousands of dollars sometimes matter.
Take the Bulls for example. There were worries earlier in the season that center Joakim Noah‘s $500,000 bonus if he made the All-NBA First Team would push Chicago past the luxury tax threshold. If, say, Goran Dragic makes an All-Star team and gets a significant bonus out of it, it could be a big deal, depending on where the Suns are. That probably won’t be a concern this coming season because Phoenix is well under the cap, which is why it’s smart to pay Tucker and Thomas more now.