The Lakers officially exercised their option on Andrew Bynum yesterday, locking him up for the final year of his contract. Bynum's isn't the first option decision of the year — Beno Udrih has picked up his 2012/13 player option, while Dwight Howard famously waived his early termination option earlier in the season. Over the next few weeks, we'll hear about even more team, player, and early termination options, as teams prepare for the July free agency period. Listed below are a few key decisions to watch in the coming weeks….
- Deron Williams, Nets ($17.78MM player option): Okay, so there's no real drama here. But when Williams declines his player option, the biggest free agent of the 2012 market will be set to officially hit the open market.
- Lou Williams, 76ers ($5.35MM ETO): Williams is expected to exercise his early termination option, making him an unrestricted free agent. Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld reported last week that the Sixers guard may seek a deal similar to the five-year, $43MM contract Thaddeus Young signed a year ago. Will Philadelphia be willing to make that sort of offer, or will Williams sign elsewhere?
- Gerald Wallace, Nets ($9.5MM player option): Wallace turns 30 in July, so this summer may represent his best chance to sign one more big-money, long-term deal. Even if he doesn't match $9.5MM annually on a new deal, I expect him to take advantage of that opportunity and turn down this option in search of a multiyear contract.
- Brandon Bass, Celtics ($4.25MM player option): A solid contributor to the Celtics this season, Bass would certainly draw interest if he decides to opt out and test the open market. He has said he'd like to remain in Boston long-term, but opting out to renegotiate a new deal with the C's could complicate the team's offseason plans.
- Elton Brand, 76ers ($18.16MM ETO): For the 33-year-old Brand, waiving his ETO seems like a lock. The real question is what will happen after he picks up the final year of his contract — the Sixers still have the amnesty clause at their disposal, and the opportunity to clear $18MM+ off their cap figure in a single stroke may be too tempting to pass up.
- Ramon Sessions, Lakers ($4.55MM player option): Before the postseason, it seemed like a sure thing that Sessions would opt out and negotiate a new contract with the Lakers. But following a poor playoff performance, Sessions' future is less clear. If he declines his option in search of a new deal, I don't think there's any guarantee he re-signs with the Lakers. It's still probably the likeliest scenario, but given the number of point guards available this summer, L.A. figures to explore all their options.
- J.R. Smith, Knicks ($2.44MM player option): If Smith turns down his player option, he almost certainly won't be a Knick next year, so his decision will come down to how much he enjoys playing in New York. Because there's little doubt that he could find a more lucrative contract as a free agent.
- Mo Williams, Clippers ($8.5MM player option): Long-term security seems important to Williams, but it's hard to imagine him turning down an $8.5MM guarantee for next season, since he's unlikely to find that in free agency. His decision will affect how much flexibility the Clips have to pursue other free agents this summer.
- Jameer Nelson, Magic ($8.6MM player option): Like the Clippers' Williams, he'll likely only opt out if he can renegotiate a new deal with his current club. However, I think that's a more probable option in Nelson's case. He has talked about not wanting to always be on the trade block, so I think he'd be willing to take a pay cut for next season if it meant being locked up for the next two or three.
- Jamal Crawford, Trail Blazers ($5.23MM player option): Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports has reported that Crawford will decline his option, which makes sense. A team like the Clippers or Timberwolves that has been missing a viable two guard will likely make Crawford an attractive multiyear offer.
- Kelenna Azubuike, Mavericks ($993K team option): The money may not be significant, but with the Mavs trying to clear room to make a run at Deron Williams and other free agents, every million counts. Dallas signed Azubuike with an eye toward 2012/13, so it would be a little surprising if the team turned down its option, but it could be necessary if cap space gets tight.
Our complete list of outstanding team, player, and early termination options can be found here.