Houston Rockets Nene ordeal: 4 times the NBA voided deals
Horace Grant’s 1994 Contract with the Orlando Magic
At the conclusion of the 1994 season, Horace Grant’s contract was up with the Chicago Bulls. Bulls’ owner Jerry Reinsdorf and general manager Jerry Krause weren’t necessarily known to take care of their players, and Grant proved to be no different. At the time, the Orlando Magic were looking for a big man to pair with Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway, and Grant fit the bill. As they envisioned it, Grant would take alot of the attention away from Shaq as he was drawing double and triple teams in the post.
However, the Magic were cap-strung, due in large part to the contracts of O’Neal and Hardaway. So they signed Grant to a 6 year deal worth $22.3 million, which included essentially an opt out clause after the first year, in exchange for more money down the line. The league took exception to the short term escape clause, as they said it violated the salary cap guidelines. They were trying to prevent what had become an epidemic of contracts including the opt out clause. It’s interesting that a contract with a player option after the first year was such a big deal, because it seems like every contract in today’s league contains the clause.
The Magic challenged the league’s outcome, opting to take the ruling to federal court, but actually lost, meaning the contract was to be voided.
The deal was ultimately re-worked as Grant and the Magic agreed to a 5 year deal worth $17 million, with a player option after the second year. Grant went on to average 13.4 points per game in addition to 9.2 rebounds that year, helping the Magic reach the Eastern Conference Finals where they would be swept by Grant’s former Bulls team.
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