The Knicks have decided to pass on their 2015/16 rookie scale team option with Shane Larkin, tweets Marc Berman of the New York Post. Berman suggests this was New York’s plan all along, though previous reports had indicated that New York was picking up the option before the team had an apparent change of heart. Larkin’s option was worth more than $1.675MM for that season, as our Rookie Scale Team Option Tracker shows. The Knicks picked up a nearly $1.305MM team option for 2015/16 on Tim Hardaway Jr. and waived trade acquisition Arnett Moultrie, who also had a pending rookie scale team option.
Declining Larkin’s option will set the point guard up for unrestricted free agency next summer, a year after the Knicks acquired him from the Mavs in the Tyson Chandler trade. The 18th overall pick in the 2013 draft played sparingly as a rookie, averaging 10.2 minutes per game across 48 appearances, though he’s started the first two games of the year for the Knicks, who are without Jose Calderon because of injury.
The primary motivation for turning down the option appears to be New York’s desire to preserve cap flexibility for next summer. That also appears to be behind the apparent unlikelihood that the team will reach an extension with Iman Shumpert before tonight’s deadline to do so. The Knicks have about $32.7MM tied up for 2015/16, plenty of room beneath a projected $66.5MM salary cap.