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Buddy Hield’s contract is a win-win

Breaking down the details of Buddy’s new deal

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Sacramento Kings Fan Fest Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

After a week of rather public negotiating, the Sacramento Kings and Buddy Hield struck a deal on Monday to keep Buddy in purple for another four years. It was a huge relief to most Kings fans, who had no interest in a potential dark cloud hanging over the team’s playoff hunt. There were concerns that it could cause unrest in the locker room, resentment among teammates, or possibly even result in a trade demand. For those reasons alone, it was wonderful news that the Kings and Buddy could agree to terms. But then the terms themselves came out, and the deal is an absolute win-win.

Sam Amick broke down the contract in detail for The Athletic. Buddy will get $86 million guaranteed with an additional $20 million in incentives. Some of those incentives are likely to be hit, others unlikely. For Kings cap purposes, the likely incentives will count against the Kings for each upcoming season. An incentive is considered likely if a player would have met the incentive the previous season.

Some additional details from Amick:

• His annual salary starts at $24.4 million, then declines to $22.4 million, $20.5 million and $18.6 million, with $2 million in reachable incentives each year.

• Year 1 reachable incentives: Play at least 70 games AND shoot 85 percent from the free-throw line ($500,000); average fewer than two turnovers per game ($500,000); lead the league in made 3-pointers ($500,000); post a defensive rating below 110.5 ($500,000).

• Year 1 harder-to-reach incentives: Be named an All-Star ($500,000); help the Kings make the playoffs ($500,000); help the Kings make it to the second round of the playoffs (additional $250,000); help the Kings make it to the Western Conference Finals (additional $500,000); help the Kings make the NBA Finals (additional $1 million).

This contract gives Buddy the validation he wanted. He’s being paid, and gets to bet on himself to hit milestones and earn even more. But the contract is also great for the team. The declining contract structure (which the Kings also used for Harrison Barnes’ deal), allows the Kings to pay Buddy a total dollar figure he’s happy with while also preserving cap space for future extensions for De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley III. The incentive structure also protects the Kings should Buddy’s production slip at all. This seems unlikely given Buddy’s notorious work ethic, but it’s still smart for the team to protect themselves.

The Kings held control over Buddy’s future even if they didn’t reach a deal before Monday’s deadline, but reaching a deal now keeps Buddy happy, avoids the contract causing locker room rifts, and ensures the contract has a Kings-friendly structure (which would be very unlikely if Buddy signed an offer sheet as a restricted free agent).

This was a great solution for both sides, but most of all it’s a great solution for Kings fans. Buddy’s skill set is a premium commodity in the NBA, and Buddy’s worth ethic and personality have made him a fan favorite. It’s great that the first cornerstone of the Kings rebuild has been rewarded and will be here going forward.