The date in which all N.B.A. contracts become fully guaranteed for the rest of the season, Jan. 10, is looming. That leaves the Heat with a decision to make on the non-guaranteed contract of Roger Mason Jr.
Mason Jr. plays a somewhat valuable role for the Heat as a versatile three-point shooting specialist who serves as the team’s third string option at both the point and shooting guard positions. But he (along with Michael Beasley, who has undoubtedly earned his keep), is also the only player who has a less than fully guaranteed contract.
Mason Jr. is a 10-year N.B.A. veteran. He is playing under a one-year contract. He is earning $1,399,507, the minimum salary for a player with his tenure.
When a player has been in the N.B.A. for three or more seasons and is playing under a one-year contract at the minimum salary, the league reimburses the team for part of his salary – any amount above the minimum salary level for a two-year veteran. As a result, the Heat is only responsible for $884,293 of his salary, equal to the minimum salary for a two-year veteran. The league will reimburse the Heat for the rest at the end of the season. Therefore, if Mason Jr. plays out his contract, he really only costs the Heat the smaller amount, and only the smaller amount is included in team salary for cap and tax purposes. They do this so teams won’t shy away from signing older veterans simply because they are more expensive than younger veterans.
As for the mechanics of how the reimbursement works, the Heat is responsible for Mason Jr.’s full prorated salary of $8,232.39 per day (equal to his $1,399,507 salary divided by the 170 days in the regular season), until the total reaches $884,293. At that point, the league reimburses the Heat for the rest. With the regular season having started on Oct. 29, he will earn that much by Feb. 13, 2014. His services from that point on essentially become free of charge.
However, if the Heat want to capitalize on his non-guarantee, they will have to waive him by no later than 5 p.m. on Jan. 7. That’s because all non-guaranteed contracts across the N.B.A. will become fully guaranteed on Jan. 10, so a player needs be gone by no later than Jan. 9 to avoid the guarantee and it takes 48 hours for a waived player to actually clear waivers. Players continue to get paid while they are on waivers.
By that time, Mason Jr. will have already earned $600,965 on his contract. Therefore, if the Heat were to waive him on Jan. 7, they’d be saving a total of $283,328. When including the tax, given the Heat’s current tax position, that amount rises to $991,649.
The Heat is already spending $110,077,842 on player payroll obligations this season, an amount at which the team presumably isn’t anywhere near profitable, so, to some extent, every dollar counts – particularly a million of them.
However, there is some degree of financial justification not to waive him in order to capitalize on his partial guarantee. Read more…