In April, the Los Angeles Lakers — a local business operating out of El Segundo — were granted a $4.6 million federal loan meant to provide paycheck protection for small businesses during the coronavirus shutdown. They were reportedly the only NBA team to receive (or apply for) a loan from the program.
The mom-and-pop shop selflessly returned the money when they found out the funds in the program were depleted, but one of their own employees, a man by the name of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, is doing his part to pay that forward by sacrificing nearly one-fifth of that amount by not reaching the statistical thresholds necessary to earn a $1 million bonus in his contract.
Bobby Marks of ESPN explains in his piece breaking down a few NBA contract incentives still in limbo while the season is on pause:
On top of a $50,000 bonus if the Lakers reach the conference finals, Caldwell-Pope has an additional $1 million in statistical incentives:
- Rebounds greater than 4.0 per game
- Steals greater than 1.2
- Assists greater than 1.85
Likely outcome: The three statistical bonuses will not be prorated because they are per-game averages. Through 62 games, Caldwell-Pope is averaging 2.1 rebounds, 0.8 steals and 1.7 assists.
In all seriousness, the impact of this on the Lakers is likely small, but could be somewhat significant down the line.
Caldwell-Pope could still very well earn that $50,000 bonus if the Lakers reach the conference finals (if the NBA season does resume as expected). But by not reaching the averages necessary to earn the other bonus, it becomes unlikely for next year, and thus does not sit on the Lakers’ cap number should Caldwell-Pope opt in to return to Los Angeles next season. This means that instead of having a team option that counted on the cap as being worth (approximately) $9,493,746, Caldwell-Pope’s base salary will instead be $8,493,746.
$1 million may not seem like a big difference given the way we normally talk about player contracts, but these are not normal times, and no one knows just how far the cap will drop next season due to all the lost revenue from the preseason situation in China and the coronavirus suspension of play. And if the Lakers being the only team to apply for a federal loan meant for small businesses — even if they later gave it back — signifies anything, it’s that every dollar counts right now.
This may not make a big difference in the end, but it might end up mattering at some point, whether in free agency, or when the Lakers are making their next financial moves as an organization.