The Indiana Pacers will receive nearly $8 million of unexpected financial relief from the long-term bans of Ron Artest, Stephen Jackson and Jermaine O'Neal, based on a league policy that requires the Pacers to pay the NBA only 10 games' worth of salary for each player while they're suspended.
Barring successful appeals, Artest ($5 million), Jackson ($1.7 million) and O'Neal ($4.11 million) will lose a combined $10.81 million in salaries as part of their suspensions without pay for their roles in the Indiana-Detroit brawl Nov. 19.
It was initially believed that the Pacers would be required to pay the full $10.81 million to the league, but ESPN.com has learned that Indiana must only forfeit $2.9 million -- $1.644 million out of O'Neal's salary, $684,211 from Artest's and $566,667 from Jackson's.
That money will be placed into escrow until the players' appeals are heard, in case the suspensions are reduced. NBA spokesman Matt Bourne said the money will be divided between the league and the NBA Players' Association for charitable activities when the appeals process is complete.
Bourne said the 10-game policy is a standing policy that the league employed before Indiana's penalties were announced. For their roles in the melee, Artest was suspended for the remainder of the season and Jackson and O'Neal were suspended for 30 and 25 games, respectively.
The Pacers' overall savings, as a result of this ruling, are just under $7.7 million, as Indiana must also pay the league $184,412 from the salaries of Anthony Johnson (suspended five games for a total of $122,222) and Reggie Miller (one game at $62,190).
Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. ESPN.com Sports Business reporter Darren Rovell contributed to this report. To e-mail Stein, click here. Also, click here to send a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.