Pull out your NBA CBA handbooks and consult your cap experts. Roughly 50 players signed something dubbed Exhibit 10 contracts this year. The lingo elicited countless explanations across basketball beats. All that matters is that Tyus Battle earned a low-risk chance to show he belongs with the Minnesota Timberwolves after departing the Syracuse Orange.
Battle did not get selected on NBA Draft night, but that did that surprise many. He last drew mention on draft boards at the turn into his junior season. The sanctimony and coverage of draft night is an important milestone in a basketball career — you saw the many tears. Though now it’s more possible than ever to use the freedom of choice attained by going undrafted to carve out a NBA career.
He’ll receive $897,158 for his rookie season if he makes Minnesota’s roster — which is the league minimum rookie contract. It’s more likely the Timberwolves will convert him to a two-way contract, since that’s the chief advantage of Exhibit 10.
Exhibit 10s carry bonuses that initiate if a player is not converted to a two-way deal to incentivize staying in the organization. If they cut him before opening night, Battle earns $5,000-$50,000 to sign with MInnesota’s Iowa Wolves G-League squad along with over $30,000 in G-League salary. He would need to do it within three days of release, and spend 60 days with Iowa.
Each NBA team carries a pair of two-way roster spaces, with Exhibit 10 players needing to be transitioned to one of them by opening night. Teams can only sign six Exhibit 10 deals. Such a squad would probably be a hair worse than the Knicks.
But we’re getting into the woods a bit. To wrap, Battle would earn nearly $80,000 for his time spent in the G-League as a two-way player, should that occur. Minnesota can call him up for 45 total days to the pro roster. He would add over $200,000 as a share of a minimum salary for that. If the Wolves need him for more, they can offer a full-time deal.
The plus is that the Timberwolves are financially investing in Battle. Oshae Brissett did not receive nearly the same commitment from the Los Angeles Clippers — who simply invited him to the summer league.
This is a far cry from making millions with the Lakers or Nets, though still a strong opportunity for a player that played three seasons for free. While the money may not compare to overseas, staying close to the NBA could increase probability of making a leap.
Battle becomes a shoe-in for the Wolves in Las Vegas for now. Their roster tentatively includes Keita Bates-Diop, Barry Brown, Jordan McLaughlin, Jordan Murphy, Jaylen Nowell, Brandon Randolph, Naz Reid and Cam Reynolds.
The bad news is he’ll play with Jarrett Culver — the No. 4 overall pick in the draft. The good news is that De’Andre Hunter will likely shadow Culver rather than Battle in Minnesota’s meeting with the Hawks on July 7. The Wolves also play Cleveland, San Antonio and Miami between July 5-10. ESPN and NBA TV will broadcast the games.
Minnesota continues their transition from the short-lived Jimmy Butler era that provided some of the best NBA drama of the decade. Butler’s discontent, blowup in practice and return to the team to wave a towel with Warriors fans on the Wolves’ bench forced a rapid-fire trade to Philadelphia. Robert Covington remains, Dario Saric got traded to Phoenix for Culver and the team fired Tom Thibodeau.
The franchise moved forward with Karl-Anthony Towns. Andrew Wiggins’ salary constitutes a massive hindrance at $27.5-million in salary. He’s signed through 2023. Wiggins, Culver, Bates-Diop and Josh Okogie could all block Battle’s playing time. Minnesota can’t feasibly add too much more in front of him.
A maximum of $16 million in cap space is feasible through letting Derrick Rose, Jerryd Bayless and Tyus Jones go. Those won’t be difficult decisions though likely won’t yield their D’Angelo Russell dream. They’ll jump at the earliest opportunity to dump Wiggin’s contract. Don’t hold your breath though.
Battle’s deal marries him to this perfect disaster if he commits to the money it entails. Since his contract is non-guaranteed, he needs to stay in the organization through the two-way deal or a brief G-League contract to get paid. Summer League is an unpaid internship, and other organizations cannot call him up from Iowa.
Towns graduated from Battle’s alma-mater, St. Joseph’s High School in Metuchen, N.J., roughly one year before Battle decided to transfer there for his 2015-16 senior season.
As with Syracuse’s past NBA stars of late, Battle will only go as far as he maximizes spot opportunities.