Duncan Robinson arrived prepared for this moment, including significant incentive in last summer’s five-year free-agent agreement in case he was part of a championship team during the term of the deal.
The Miami Heat also arrived prepared for this moment, the added payout to be guaranteed only if Robinson was a significant part of such a title run.
At the moment, that leaves Robinson still chasing a ring, but almost assuredly unable to also chase the cash that would guarantee all of what could be a $90 million deal.
As a means of both incentivizing Robinson toward championship success and covering themselves in case Robinson’s role or productivity decreased, the final $10 millon of Robinson contract is only guaranteed if the Heat win a championship during any of those five seasons.
But even then there are caveats, caveats already in place and at play this postseason.
According to three NBA parties familiar with the contract framing, Robinson only cashes in on the championship bonus if the following are met in the title-winning season:
— At least 70 regular-season appearances.
— Average at least 25 minutes during the regular season.
— Appear in at least 75 percent of his team’s playoff games.
— Average at least 25 minutes in the playoffs.
Despite losing his starting role to Max Strus in March, Robinson still made 79 regular-season appearances, so that threshold was reached.
And despite the reduced role, there still were 25.9 minutes per game during the regular season, so that marker also was attained.
But the postseason has gone in a different direction, even after scoring 27 points in the playoff opener against the Atlanta Hawks.
So far, 11 appearances in the Heat’s 15 playoff outings going into Wednesday night’s Game 5 at FTX Arena against the Boston Celtics in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals . . . and the ultimate hard reality of only 11.27 minutes per game this postseason.
Such bonuses are not unusual in contracts, particularly with several crafted by Robinson’s agent, Jason Glushon.
Glushon, for example, also represents Boston big man Al Horford, whose 2022-23 team option jumps by $5 million if the Celtics make the NBA Finals and $12 million if they win the championship. The markers were included when the deal initially was completed with the Philadelphia 76ers, who very much were championship or bust at that moment.
And in a move similar to the uncertainty with Robinson, Glushon included such incentives with the contract agreement reached in August with the Washington Wizards regarding Spencer Dinwiddie, who since moved on to the Dallas Mavericks.
For Robinson — who was born in York, Maine, in 1994 — it has been an uneven ride, and for more than the financial pathway.
But there also could be hope, considering he went into Wednesday coming off a 14-point performance in Game 4, when he played 23:20. And there also were first-half minutes in Saturday night’s Game 3.
“Literally every single game in this series, he’s been on my mind,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of the semi-revival for Robinson. “We definitely could use his spacing and shooting. He creates a different kind of trigger. He accesses a different part of the menu for us. I think that’s important.”
When Robinson converted four 3-pointers in mostly mop-up duty Monday night, it was the first time he had reached that total since his nine in the April 17 playoff opener against the Hawks.
“And, again,” Spoelstra said, “it depends on the flow, circumstance of the game. And some of these, I can have an idea but I’m not going to just totally predetermine.”
While Spoelstra can’t guarantee a championship payoff beyond a potential ring, should the Heat push past the Celtics and then the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, he said he is comfortable that Robinson is ready when called upon.
“He’s emotionally steady,” Spoelstra said. “It doesn’t mean he loves it, but he’s going to be ready for those minutes when they happen.”
Story by Ira Winderman, South Florida Sun-Sentinel