Salary Cap 101: What is an Exhibit 10 training camp deal?

Sharife Cooper, Cleveland Cavaliers and R.J. Hampton, Orlando Magic. Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images
Sharife Cooper, Cleveland Cavaliers and R.J. Hampton, Orlando Magic. Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images /

Early in an NBA offseason players sign full contracts to join a team. Those contracts can be some combination of guaranteed or non-guaranteed, but they are full-fledged NBA contracts that allow a player to play in every game during the season.

Two-way contracts are a slightly different animal, as a team is limited to three of them and can only sign players with less than four years of service time. Two-way players have a limited number of “service days” during the season and are not eligible for the playoffs.

NBA teams have access to a third kind of contract as well, and these deals are usually signed in force during the final few weeks before training camp begins. These are called Exhibit 10 contracts.

Welcome to the latest edition in our “Salary Cap 101” series as we break down the intricacies of the NBA salary cap and collective bargaining agreement. Check out past entries about the luxury tax and tax aprons and how veteran extensions work in the NBA.

What is an Exhibit 10 contract?

First introduced in the 2017 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), an Exhibit 10 contract is a mechanism for teams to bring in players to compete in training camp. They function as one-year minimum contracts, but most of the contract is non-guaranteed. Their purpose is to allow teams to bring in a few players to compete in training camp for a final roster spot or a team’s G League affiliate.

The difference between an Exhibit 10 and a normal non-guaranteed deal is that teams can include an optional bonus in the contract up to $75,000. That bonus is awarded if, after a player is waived, he spends at least 60 days with a team’s G League affiliate.

That mechanism encourages players who intend to play in the G League to stick with the team they were with in training camp. The team benefits from keeping them close to the organization and playing a consistent style of play, thus lessening the learning curve should that player get “called up” during the season. The player benefits from that bonus money they would not otherwise get on a non-guaranteed deal.

If the player signs with another team, another G League team or heads overseas, that bonus is voided.

How many Exhibit 10 deals can a team have?

An NBA team cannot have more than 21 total contracts on its books at any point in the offseason, and by the start of the season has to pare that down to no more than 15 standard contracts and three two-way deals.

A team may fill in the gaps during training camp and the preseason with up to six Exhibit 10 contracts at any one time.

How do you convert an Exhibit 10 deal?

There are two primary ways to convert an Exhibit 10 deal. The more common path for younger players is to convert that Exhibit 10 into a two-way contract, assuming one of the three slots is available. Their bonus money is immediately guaranteed, even if the player is waived a day later. This has to be done prior to the start of the regular season.

The other way to convert an Exhibit 10 contract is simply to keep that player on the 15-man roster past the start of the regular season. At that point, the contract becomes a standard minimum contract. An Exhibit 10 deal would not count against a team’s total salary, but upon converting to a standard deal it would just as any other minimum signing would.

Who did the Cavaliers sign to an Exhibit 10 deal?

At the time of this initial writing, the Cleveland Cavaliers have signed four players to Exhibit 10 deals to bring into training camp prior to the 2023-24 NBA season. Pete Nance and Justin Powell are undrafted rookies likely headed for a season in the G League with the Cleveland Charge. Sharife Cooper was in camp on an Exhibit 10 last year and is likely hoping the Cavs’ need at point guard gives him a shot at the final roster spot.

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Finally, Zhaire Smith entered the NBA in the 2018 Draft and has thus far failed to capitalize on his athletic potential. After spending the last couple of seasons with the Detroit Pistons and their G League affiliate, Smith heads a few hours southeast trying to pry open another chance in the league.