THURSDAY, 6:09pm: Golden State has officially exercised Ezeli’s option, the team has announced.
WEDNESDAY, 9:13am: The Warriors will exercise their team option to keep Festus Ezeli on his rookie scale contract through 2015/16, reports Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link). Ezeli will make nearly $2.009MM that season, as our Rookie Scale Team Option Tracker shows. The club also has 2015/16 rookie scale team options pending with Harrison Barnes and Nemanja Nedovic, with a decision due by the end of Friday.
Ezeli missed all of 2013/14 after undergoing right knee surgery, but he played a key role the previous year as a rookie, starting 41 games. He averaged 2.5 points and 4.0 rebounds in 14.4 minutes per contest over 78 appearances during the season as a whole. The now 25-year-old Ezeli saw just 15 minutes total in two preseason games this month, but it appears the Warriors are willing to let him prove his health over a longer period of time before giving up on the final pick of the 2012 first round.
Golden State is facing a salary crunch for the 2015/16 season, as Ezeli’s option will lift the team’s guaranteed salaries to about $58.1MM. That doesn’t include any money for Klay Thompson, who’s pushing for the maximum salary in extension talks with the team. A max deal for Thompson and picking up the team option on Barnes would put Golden State at roughly $77MM in guaranteed salary to eight players, and that doesn’t count a nearly $1.271MM player option for Brandon Rush and assumes the team turns down Nedovic’s option. That figure would put Golden State above this season’s $76.829MM luxury tax line, and while that line is expected to rise for 2015/16, it’s unclear by how much.