All 15 guys on an NBA roster want to play. That goes without saying. But now I can understand why Nate Robinson must have been so upset riding the pine in Boston at the end of the season: It cost him $1 million. During his time with the Celtics, Robinson didn’t see action in only five games. The first three were right after he got traded, and then there were two random ones in April – the 4th against Cleveland and the 7th against Toronto. While at the time no one thought much of it, Boston’s motives now appear clear: It saved them $2 million.
According to ESPN.com’s Henry Abbott, here’s what happened:
A clause in Robinson’s contract calls for him to make a $1 million bonus if he both played in at least 58 games and made the playoffs this season. Robinson’s Celtics are in the postseason but he played in 56 games. As a result, the Celtics saved the $1 million they would have paid Robinson — equivalent to a quarter of his reported annual salary — and an additional $1 million they would have owed in luxury tax to the NBA (most of which would have been distributed to teams with payrolls below the luxury tax threshold).
As Abbott points out, to reach 58 total games played, after sitting out those first three, Robinson would have had to play in every remaining game for the Celtics. While his playing time was sporadic, with 10 days left in the season, he remained on track to get paid. He’d played in 20 straight games, averaged 15 minutes a night, and was doing well for the C’s. But then somehow, Robinson gets the dreaded DNP-CD and that money goes away.
If I’m Nate Robinson, I’m pissed. I show up, I contribute, and $1 million is basically stolen from me. Now that this contract stipulation has come to light, it makes you wonder if Mike D’Antoni (or Donnie Walsh) had an ulterior motive to benching Nate earlier in the year on the Knicks. Once again, it’s just a business.
What do you think?
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