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2015 NBA Free Agency: Omer Asik even less expensive than expected

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Good news for the Pelicans future salary cap.

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Up until today salary estimates for most new contracts have been just that, estimates. Once the salary cap was released a maximum contract was well established; players with less than six years NBA experience would begin at $16,407,500 and those with seven to nine years experience would start at $19,689,000. Minimum salaries and cap exceptions, such as the Mid-Level Exception, are already established ahead of time in the NBA CBA. Other contracts, like the four year, $54 million deal between Robin Lopez and the New York Knicks or the four year, $52 million deal struck by the Phoenix Suns and Tyson Chandler could be easily deciphered by most capologists on NBA Twitter.

Omer Asik's contract is not like those contracts.

Initial reports put Asik's contract at five years and $60 million. Later that night the big number was cut down to $58 million with just $44 million guaranteed according to Scott Kushner of the New Orleans Advocate. $16 million already had been lopped off the guaranteed number. After a number of other centers had signed I pointed out that Asik's contract was a relatively cheap deal, assuming that the fifth year was unguaranteed.

Now we have verified numbers on the contract, along with some idea about what Asik must do to achieve the guarantees.

Omer Asik will make $9.2 million next season with $1 million each season in incentives; these incentives are considered unlikely. As the CBA defines and limits incentives, an incentive is deemed unlikely in the case that the player (or team the player is on) did not achieve the incentive in the previous season.

There are three categories of allowable incentives: performance, academic/physical achievement, and extra promotional. The latter two categories are always included in the player's salary and team salary amounts. Performance incentives are classified as either "likely to be achieved" or "not likely to be achieved," with only the likely incentives included in the player's salary and team salary amounts. The determination of whether an incentive is likely or unlikely is based on whether the criterion was achieved in the previous season. For example, if a player had seven assists per game the previous season, then an incentive based on seven assists per game would be classified as likely to be achieved, but one based on eight assists per game would be classified as not likely.

Over the course of the next four years Asik will average $10.25 million against the salary cap. The final year of his contract is guaranteed for just $3 million with an early termination option; that would be Asik's call to exercise or not.

Omer Asik will account for 11.1% of the salary cap in 2016-17; equal to $7 million under the 2014-15 salary cap. Shedding just one of Jrue Holiday or Tyreke Evans will create maximum cap space next summer. Otherwise the Pelicans will have 'just' $16.6 million available next summer; enough to offer a four year, $71 million offer to a free agent.

Considering the new information regarding the sheer size of the incentive in Asik's contract and that it was not achieved last season increases what grade I would give this contract. Before I straddled the B or C line, joining 73% of readers who voted as such just after Asik's contract was agreed to here on The Bird Writes. Now I sit solidly in the B section. It is no B+ or better, that would require fewer years or a lower average than just over $10 million.

Unlike the few (vocal) others I am very glad that Asik will be back in a Pelicans uniform at a fair price. If the summer league squad is any indication, the product we will see next season will bear very little resemblance to last year's team. If Alvin Gentry wants to play fast the key will be corralling rebounds and getting stops. Few contribute more on that end than Omer Asik.