Earned, but not guaranteed: Nets fringe players have more work to do to earn their spot

Cory Jefferson, Kelly Olynyk
Cory Jefferson (AP)
Cory Jefferson, Kelly Olynyk
Cory Jefferson (AP)

The Brooklyn Nets officially cemented their roster prior to the 5 P.M. deadline Monday, holding on to center Jerome Jordan, guard Jorge Gutierrez, and forward Cory Jefferson for the maximum 15 players allowed.

But although all three made the final roster, they’re not fully guaranteed to make it through the season just yet.

The Nets have given them partial guarantees for making the team, which all but guarantees they’ll be paid through certain dates. It’s a common practice: with non-guaranteed deals, the team guarantees a portion of the contract as a bonus, which makes it pointless to cut them from the team before they fulfill that guarantee. After that time, teams can cut the player at any time until January 7th, at which time their contract becomes fully guaranteed for the rest of the season.

Jerome Jordan’s guarantee for making the team was for $100,000 (which will last him about 21 days), Cory Jefferson’s $75,000 (about 26 days, more than Jordan since Jefferson is on a rookie minimum deal), and Jorge Gutierrez’s $50,000 (about 11 days), per sources to The Brooklyn Game. Gutierrez also earned $25,000 for making the team out of training camp. Once those days dry up, the players can either be waived at any time at no cost to the Nets, or have their contract re-structured to guarantee them through January 7th.

Billy King spoke in glowing terms about Gutierrez and Jordan. “(H)e’s never wavered in his belief that he can play in this league,” King said of Gutierrez. “When we cut him last year as the last cut [in training camp], I told him we’ll keep an eye on you, and we brought him back. He just kept working, believing, this summer he went to summer league and we drafted other guys and he just kept coming back and is very persistent, and that’s the type of player we want to have here.”

King also mentioned that Jordan came highly recommended by Nets coach Lionel Hollins. “I was telling agents that with the history, there may be an opportunity for a big to make this spot,” King noted. “But Lionel really liked him and he came in and did what he was supposed to. Be seven feet, rebound that ball, and when he got an opportunity he played well.”

Gutierrez has proven himself multiple times to the Nets, and with Marquis Teague gone it seems likely he’ll stick around, though King didn’t rule out looking to upgrade the position. Jordan provides much-needed depth at the center position, and Jefferson is a talented rookie with upside as a jump shooter and rebounder. The Nets can also send players down to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, the D-League affiliate they share with about a dozen other teams. But that doesn’t seem likely right away.

“Right now I think we’re going to have everybody stick together for a while and see how it unfolds,” King said.

The trio now has the next month to prove they belong.