Benching Costs Nate Robinson $1 Million
Boston Celtics guard Nate Robinson was benched for two games near the end of the regular season, and it cost him $1 million, while saving the team twice that amount.
A clause in Robinson's contract calls for him to make a $1 million bonus if he both played in at least 58 games and made the playoffs this season. Robinson's Celtics are in the postseason but he played in 56 games. As a result, the Celtics saved the $1 million they would have paid Robinson -- equivalent to a quarter of his reported annual salary -- and an additional $1 million they would have owed in luxury tax to the NBA (most of which would have been distributed to teams with payrolls below the luxury tax threshold).
The Knicks traded Robinson to the Celtics at the deadline. He played his first game for Boston on Feb. 23. To reach 58 games played, he would have had to play in every remaining game. His playing time was sporadic, but with 10 days left, he remained on track, having played in 20 straight games. Robinson has averaged 15 minutes a game with the Celtics.
He missed an entire game, and a big payday, when the Celtics beat the Cavaliers on April 4. The Celtics played their starters long minutes and were also working Michael Finley -- a veteran bench scorer, like Robinson -- into the rotation. Robinson dressed but did not see action.