After the dust settles from the NBA Draft, there is short period of calm before the raging storm of free agency begins in July. The only thing is, for some players, the dust never truly settles.
Sixty names are called on draft night, but for those who aren’t fortunate enough to be picked, the journey doesn’t end there. They often look to get onto a Summer League team, where they hope to perform well enough to catch onto a pre-season and eventually regular season roster.
For NBA teams, finding an undrafted player who makes an impression and sticks is like searching for a needle in a haystack, but when it happens, it can really pay off.
For example, Jeremy Lin, currently of the Brooklyn Nets, went undrafted and then experienced immense popularity with a stretch of incredible play that coined the term “Linsanity.”
When the draft ends, there is a scramble to sign undrafted players to non-guaranteed Summer League deals in order to get a longer look at them. Often these deals are arranged before the draft as a parachute of sorts to give the player some protection in case they don’t get selected.
This year, the Los Angeles Lakers got in on the act by signing Jeffrey Carroll out of Oklahoma State to an Exhibit 10 contract, per Michael Scotto of The Athletic:
The Los Angeles Lakers and Jeffrey Carroll (Oklahoma State) have agreed to an Exhibit 10 deal, a league source told The Athletic.
— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) June 22, 2018
As was reported shortly after the 2018 NBA Draft concluded, the Lakers signed Joel Barry II and Malik Newman. In addition, they’re also set to ink Johnathan Williams, via Bill Oram of The Athletic:
The Lakers will sign Johnathan Williams from Gonzaga to their summer league roster. As @MikeAScotto reported last night, they already added UNC's Joel Berry and OkSt's Jeffrey Carroll.
— Bill Oram (@billoram) June 22, 2018
Carroll’s contract is what naturally sticks out from the batch of reported signings. Exhibit 10 deals allow teams to sign a player and get a look at them but if the player is waived, there is an incentive paid to the player of up $50,000, should the player sign with that NBA team’s G League affiliate and remains there for a minimum of 60 days.
So if Carroll doesn’t play well enough to warrant a roster spot on the Lakers, they can provide him with a financial incentive to stay in their system and play for South Bay.
This also protects the team against having to sign a player to a larger, partially guaranteed deal and then losing that player after they don’t make the regular season roster and having to still pay the guaranteed portion of the salary anyway.
For example, in 2016 the Lakers brought in undrafted Notre Dame big man Zach Auguste into Summer League and eventually invited him to training camp with a two-year deal worth $543,000, with only $60,000 guaranteed. A month later the Lakers determined they would not use a roster spot on Auguste and waived him.
They hoped that Auguste would sign with their G League (then called the D-League) team, but Auguste signed overseas instead and still got his $60,000 guaranteed money from the Lakers, which sat on their cap for the season.
Had Exhibit 10 existed in 2016, the Lakers could have signed Auguste to that deal instead, which would have only paid him the guaranteed money had he stuck around after being waived and joined the D-Fenders. This would give the Lakers some return on the guaranteed money.
Additionally, bonus money paid in Exhibit 10 contracts do not count against the team’s salary cap, so that is an added benefit to the club. So in Carroll’s case, even if the Lakers waive him, he will likely wind up on the South Bay Lakers. He averaged up 15.4 points and 6.2 rebounds per game this past season.
Williams scored 13.1 points per game while also snagging 8.5 boards and rejecting 1.1 shots per game last season.
Contractual minutiae aside, the odds are long against Berry II, Williams, or Carroll landing on the Lakers regular season roster, but the first step would be a breakout performance in Summer League.
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