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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: If Knox Comes Back, What’s His Financial Risk

© Kyle Terada | USATSI

© Kyle Terada | USATSI

At the end of the day, John Calipari’s stance on pushing guys towards the NBA Draft is entirely based around money.  The idea that money is never guaranteed and coming back to college when guaranteed million are in front of you is a mistake.  Now, we have heard reports that when it comes to Kevin Knox, Calipari might be attempting to get a guy to come back who could potentially be a lottery pick.  It’s a refreshing change for fans of the University of Kentucky.  But overall, Calipari’s stance is understandable.  Guys who flamed out of the NBA like James Young and Doron Lamb might never see the NBA floor again but they still made millions.  If they had returned to UK for additional years, their games might have been more exposed and they don’t make those millions.  Or, worst case scenario, they get injured.

So if Kevin Knox does choose to come back to UK today, what is his financial risk?

Currently on, Knox is projected as the 11th pick in the draft.  Here is what that rookie contract would look like for Knox using the 2017-18 NBA Rookie Pay Scale:

2018-19: $2,904,480 (guaranteed)
2019-20: $3,447,480 (guaranteed)
2020-21: $4,028,400 (team option)
2021-22: $5,345,687 (team option)

Essentially, Knox would be guaranteed $6.3 million over his first 2 seasons in the NBA with potential team options for an additional $9.3 million for the next 2 seasons if he was drafted 11th this year.  So over the 4 years, assuming the team picks up the options, that rookie contract at the 11th draft slot is worth $15.6 million.

Now, if Knox comes back, he is missing out on the $2.9 million for the 2018-19 season.  So my question is how much higher would he have to be drafted to make up that money by the Knox’s 3rd season in the NBA.  So basically how high would Knox have to be drafted in 2019 to make $15.6 million in his first 3 years in the NBA.  Here is the contracts (using the 2017 pay scale) for each slot in the lottery for that player’s first THREE years:

1st pick: $25.1 million
2nd pick: $22.5 million
3rd pick: $20.1 million
4th pick: $18.1 million
5th pick: $16.4 million
6th pick: $15.0 million

So here is my point.  As the rookie pay scale stands now, if Knox comes back, he would have to be a Top 5 draft pick in 2019 to make up the lost income for this season if he was drafted 11th.  That is what we are talking about from a financial standpoint.

Now, here are a couple additional things to consider:

  1. The pay scale changes from year to year.
  2. NBA players don’t make their “real” money until the 2nd contract.  So the argument for Kevin coming back is that his skills develop to a point where even if he isn’t a Top 5 pick next year, his 2nd contract would be bigger and he would make more money long term than if he goes into the draft this year.

It’s a very interesting decision.  It is rare to see a lottery pick choose to come back to school in today’s climate.  Of course, Knox is fringe lottery and I think all of us who watched him this season will admit he is far from a finished product.  It’s hard seeing him make much of impact immediately in the NBA when he wasn’t making a consistent impact in the college game.  But the talent is clearly there.  He has the mid-range game and a fairly dependable jump shot.  Athleticism is definitely there too.  But a subpar defender and doesn’t really create his own shot off the dribble.

Knox’s decision is really a discussion of old school vs. new school.  Old school people who say you come back, develop your game, leave when ready to make an NBA impact.  New school people would argue that is risky and take the money when you can.  My stance has always been that I don’t blame guys for going when they do.  But I am not a fan of the NBA, so I selfishly hope Kevin Knox chooses to come back today and make the team I support that much better.

Article written by Bryan the Intern

12 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: If Knox Comes Back, What’s His Financial Risk

  1. kbo24
    10:46 am April 6, 2018 Permalink

    Good luck in the NBA next year, Kevin…he gone. (Hope I’m wrong)

  2. bluecrowe
    10:54 am April 6, 2018 Permalink

    ummm What the hell are you doing pointing this out? We know he and his family are aware, but you should not be addressing it within hours of his decision.;) He needs to come back. He is a child and will move up the boards next year.

    Please return Kevin. You guys can actually accomplish something next year and you will be remembered in a way all the one and dones simply never will be here at UK.

  3. Smyrna_Cat
    11:00 am April 6, 2018 Permalink

    This would be a GREAT article after he stays. As is, there are just way too many speculations this week. It is a bit dizzying.

    And I think most of this has already been pointed out this week … repeatedly.

  4. KTR2786
    11:11 am April 6, 2018 Permalink

    Given Knox STILL has plenty of ceiling right now, the type of game he plays and stellar shooting and the fact that the draft will be even more favorable to his position next year this is a rare case where there is a compelling argument for him to come back.

  5. kybigblue
    11:36 am April 6, 2018 Permalink

    No matter what he decides he will make enough to live on. lol Strange timing of the article but I am sure he and his family already know this. At least he realizes there would be advantages in returning. Whatever he decides I wish him the best.

  6. Smyrna_Cat
    11:50 am April 6, 2018 Permalink

    I think what BTI overlooks is that it is not a GIVEN that Knox’s NBA career will be the same whether he goes now or a year from now. Too many players think their talent is enough. Archie Goodwin – amazing talent and wish him all the best – found out that is not enough; you have to be prepared. The more sound you are as a college player, the better you will adapt to the NBA. Knox’s career may be LONGER and played at a HIGHER LEVEL by waiting a year and getting better prepared. Maybe not.

  7. makeitstop
    11:51 am April 6, 2018 Permalink

    First of all those numbers are wrong. The 17/18 scale for the 11 is $2.4, $2.9, ($5.1 guaranteed) $3.4 optional but even 2018/19 numbers are lower than that: $6.1 guaranteed and $3.4 option IF picked 11th. But no projection has him above a team’s “plan C” at 10th or 11th and he’s projected as a 14 in several. At that level he gets “only $5.2” guaranteed. Compare to next year’s scale: he would get $10.6m GUARANTEED if picked 6th and $8.2 with a $4.4m option if picked 8th which is conservatively the worst he’d do w a year more and a weaker draft. So actually the numbers favor a return.

    • ClutchCargo
      12:07 pm April 6, 2018 Permalink

      I think BTI’s numbers are factoring in that first round picks can sign for up to 120% of the salary scale amount. But you have a point, that 120% is not something that is guaranteed to happen, even if he is selected in the lottery.

    • ClutchCargo
      12:52 pm April 6, 2018 Permalink

      However, don’t let any of this distract you from the fact that BTI sucks.

  8. chrisg18
    1:34 pm April 6, 2018 Permalink

    Pretty sure that money will have little to no impact on Kevin’s decision. His dad has even said as much.

  9. luke_emberton
    2:00 pm April 6, 2018 Permalink

    Need flash BTI he’s not getting picked 11th he’s going to be picked later than that if he goes go look at a mock draft every once in awhile

  10. njcat54
    12:46 am April 7, 2018 Permalink

    Cal doesn’t recruit players that want to be in college.