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Partially guaranteed contracts mean money, not necessarily roster spot, for NBA hopefuls

Ron Baker guards Orlando’s Justin Dentmon during a game in the Orlando summer league.
Ron Baker guards Orlando’s Justin Dentmon during a game in the Orlando summer league. Associated Press

Former Wichita State stars Ron Baker (Knicks) and Fred VanVleet (Raptors) have agreed, according to numerous reports, on partially guaranteed contracts with NBA teams.

What does that mean?

The “partial” part of the contract means they get money and a spot in training camp. They aren’t guaranteed a roster spot after training camp.

For example, a team may guarantee a player $50,000 out of the NBA minimum of around $520,000. The player gets that money whether or not he makes the team out of training camp. NBA teams have 15 roster spots, most of which of usually filled by athletes on guaranteed deals. (One of the reasons the Knicks may have been attractive to Baker and his agent is that on July 1 they had only five guaranteed contracts. That number has since risen to 12).

The partially guaranteed contract, according to an agent, is also a way to make the NBA Development League more attractive. A team can send a player to the D League (for a salary of, say, $20,000) and in essence bump up that salary with the partially guaranteed money. A team may invite 20 players to training camp and send up to four cuts to the D League in an effort to retain control of their rights, at a minimal cost.

All NBA contracts become guaranteed on Jan. 5, so if a player makes the team their salary is prorated up until that date.

Partial guarantees are a helpful development for Baker and VanVleet, who will get some money and a bit of certainty regarding what’s next.

You may have seen reports of Baker negotiating with a team in Italy. This could be an attempt to get the Knicks to sweeten his deal, perhaps guaranteeing more money or the entire contract before training camp.

Paul Suellentrop: 316-269-6760, @paulsuellentrop

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