NBA player KJ McDaniels signed a risky rookie contract that would have been worthless if he got cut, and it made him $10 million

Kj mcdanielsNick Laham/GettyK.J. McDaniels raised his salary from $US507,000 to over $US3 million per year.

Houston Rockets wing K.J. McDaniels took an unusual risk on his rookie contract last year, and now he’s reaping the rewards for it.

McDaniels, the Philadelphia 76ers’ 32nd pick in the draft in 2014, went against the grain and signed a one-year, non-guaranteed rookie contract. Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported at the time that he and his agent rejected the usual four-year deal (with the first two years guaranteed and the second two years non-guaranteed) the 76ers typically offer rookies.

By rejecting a team-friendly contract that would have given him long-term security, he created a high-risk, high-reward scenario for himself.

Under the normal four-year contract the Sixers offer second-round picks, the team could have cut a him after two years with no financial penalty. They do this because in a best-case scenario, they could get two years to judge a player, then guarantee his next two years at a cheap rate if he’s good. Otherwise, after two years, the Sixers can cut him or use the player as a valuable trade chip.

McDaniels instead took a gamble, playing on a one-year deal worth the minimum of $US507,000, which allowed him to become a free agent this summer. In doing so, McDaniels sacrificed long-term security. If he didn’t end up getting any playing time, he likely wouldn’t have earned a bigger contract (or a longer one), and if he had gotten seriously hurt, his career could have been in jeopardy.

It paid off for McDaniels, though. After a strong first half of the season with the Sixers, he was traded to the Rockets at the deadline. Though he didn’t play much in Houston, he hit restricted free agency this summer and got a three-year, $US10 million offer from the Rockets.

The gamble almost turned against him when he was traded, too. He went from playing 25 minutes per game with the Sixers to playing three minutes per game with the Rockets. When he hit free agency this summer, the Rockets could have given him a low offer, forcing him to once again prove himself.

Instead, Houston liked the potential they saw from McDaniels in Philly, and McDaniels got paid more handsomely than almost any other player from the 2014 draft class.

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