Josh Smith’s contract for $54 million or $56 million?

As I wrote earlier, Pistons’ contracts are often leaked as lesser amounts than they are actually worth.

The local beat writers each reported Josh Smith’s contract is worth $54 million. But Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports says it’s worth $56 million.

Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News explains s:

The deal could rise to $56 million if Smith reaches performance incentives but for the moment, he’ll be making $13.5 million per season to play both forward spots for the Pistons, immediately turning them into a more athletic and dynamic team.

There is a difference between incentives that are likely to be achieved and unlikely to be achieved, and Larry Coon explains it well on his CBA FAQ. But, right now, the type of incentives in Smith’s contract don’t matter. Both will count against the cap. Coon:

In the first season of a contract the base salary, likely bonuses and unlikely bonuses must all fit within the salary cap or exception. The league determines a team’s available room under the cap or an exception by adding in the unlikely bonuses for all players who signed that season. This prevents a team from signing multiple players to lower salaries but with lots of unlikely bonuses that collectively exceed the cap room it has to offer.

So maybe Smith must meet certain benchmarks to earn more salary next season, but for the Pistons, it doesn’t matter right now. They have to leave cap room to pay those incentives, whether he ends up meeting them or not.

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