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Declined Rookie Options Cast Players Into Limbo

It’s difficult to say any player move is likely until it’s imminent, but the notion that Sergey Karasev won’t be on the Nets for much longer isn’t far-fetched, even though Karasev denied reports that he wants Brooklyn to trade him. No such rumors have surfaced about P.J. Hairston and the Hornets or Solomon Hill and the Pacers, but neither is a strong bet to stick with his team. They were the only three players this fall with pending rookie scale options for 2016/17 whose teams declined to pick them up. There were four players last year whose 2015/16 options went unexercised, and none of the four is still with the team that declined the option. Three of them wound up changing teams before the end of last season.

All players with rookie scale options on their contracts are former first-round picks who carried significant promise at some point. Rookie scale option decisions are due a year in advance, and when those options are declined, it puts the team and the player in an awkward situation, since it signals that the team has essentially abandoned hope that the player will develop into a worthwhile contributor. The team can’t re-sign the player the following offseason to a starting salary greater than the value of the option, further limiting the chances of a continued relationship.

Here’s a look at what happened to each of the four players whose rookie scale team options were declined last year:

The Basketball Insiders salary pages were used in the creation of this post.

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