The No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, Deandre Ayton has a $10,018,200 salary next season.
The No. 2 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, Marvin Bagley III has a $8,963,640 salary next season.
The No. 46 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, De’Anthony Melton has a… $9.6 million salary next season?
The Grizzlies are re-signing Melton and fellow overachiever John Konchar, who went undrafted last year.
Shams Charania of The Athletic:
De’Anthony Melton, the 46th pick in the 2018 NBA draft, now has the highest net salary from his class for the 2020-21 season ($9.6M). https://t.co/W2EPs9kSJF
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) November 21, 2020
If Melton has a $9.6 base salary next season, that wouldn’t top his draft class. It’d fall between Ayton and Bagley.
Melton’s contract is backloaded, which is smart of the Grizzlies. They won’t have cap space this offseason regardless. They’re better off paying Melton as much as possible next season and enjoying savings later in the deal.
Which is why I wonder whether Melton’s salary next season is actually $10,047,450. That’s the most Memphis could pay Melton with the Early Bird Exception. It’d also put Melton atop his draft class in salary next season.
Maybe the $9.6 million figure is adjusted to the shortened season. That same adjustment would drop Ayton lower in an apples-to-apples comparison.
A maximally backloaded contract starting at $10,047,450 would pay Melton $35,367,024 over four years (which could get rounded to $35 million in reporting).
That structure would mean Melton’s 2021-22 salary ($9,243,654) falls behind the top three picks in his draft class – though ahead of No. 4 pick and Memphis teammate Jaren Jackson Jr. ($9,180,560). In 2022-23, Melton would be earning $8,439,858 while many 2018 first-round picks are finished with their rookie-scale deals and earning far more.
So, there’s a win-the-headlines element to this deal.
But, again, Melton was the No. 46 pick! He wasn’t expected to out-earn players drafted ahead of him. This is a nice payday for him.
On the other hand, Konchar isn’t getting much more than his minimum ($6,991,746). But he had little leverage coming off a two-way contract.
Both Melton and Konchar have performed well in their opportunities and should form a fun backup guard/wing group with No. 30 pick Desmond Bane.