Player options are by far the most common type of option in contracts handed out to NBA veterans. Every rookie-scale contract contains a pair of team options, but the collective bargaining agreement requires that those options be part of the deal. When teams and players can freely negotiate the terms of their contracts, clubs almost always eschew team options in favor of non-guaranteed seasons.
When players hold leverage, they sometimes have an alternative to player options, too. Five-year deals may contain an early-termination option, which functions slightly differently from a player option. Perhaps the primary incentive for a player to obtain an ETO rather than a player option is tied to trade kickers. The money in the ETO season of a contract is counted toward the bonus a player may be paid if he’s traded, while the salary in a player option year is not.
Chris Paul is the lone player to have received an ETO so far this summer. Details on Nikola Pekovic‘s five-year contract are still emerging, so perhaps he’ll have one, too. Paul and Pekovic are the only players to sign five-year contracts this year, so no one else is eligible for an ETO.
By contrast, 23 of this summer’s deals include a player option, according to Mark Deeks of ShamSports. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few more, as a team’s willingness to include a player option can enhance even a minimum-salary offer. It’s a tool that teams may use to woo unsigned veterans with credible track records who are reluctant to settle for the minimum. For instance, Luke Adams of Hoops Rumors recently speculated that Antawn Jamison could wind up with a two-year minimum-salary deal with a player option in the second season.
It’s clear that some front offices embrace player options more readily than others. The Bobcats, Nets and Timberwolves have each handed out three contracts with player options, while the Rockets, Knicks and Clippers gave out two new deals with player options. That leaves 16 teams that didn’t sign anyone to a deal with a player option.
Here’s the complete list of this summer’s contracts that include player options, along with the amount of the option and the season it’s for:
- Dwight Howard, Rockets: $23,282,457 (2016/17)
- Al Jefferson, Bobcats: $13,500,000 (2015/16)
- David West, Pacers: $12,600,000 (2015/16)
- Monta Ellis, Mavericks: $8,720,000 (2015/16)
- Kevin Martin, Timberwolves: $7,377,500 (2016/17)
- J.R. Smith, Knicks: $6,399,750 (2015/16)
- Gerald Henderson, Bobcats: $6,000,000 (2015/16)
- Chase Budinger, Timberwolves: $5,000,000 (2015/16)
- Corey Brewer, Timberwolves: $4,905,000 (2015/16)
- Andrei Kirilenko, Nets: $3,326,235 (2014/15)
- Josh McRoberts, Bobcats: $2,771,340 (2014/15)
- Mo Williams, Trail Blazers: $2,771,340 (2014/15)
- Eric Maynor, Wizards: $2,106,720 (2014/15)
- Nate Robinson, Nuggets: $2,106,720 (2014/15)
- Darren Collison, Clippers: $1,985,500 (2014/15)
- Metta World Peace, Knicks: $1,661,550 (2014/15)
- Chris Andersen, Heat: $1,448,490 (2014/15)
- Andray Blatche, Nets: $1,437,506 (2014/15)
- Francisco Garcia, Rockets: $1,316,809 (2014/15)
- Nick Young, Lakers: $1,227,985 (2014/15)
- Anthony Morrow, Pelicans: $1,145,685 (2014/15)*
- Alan Anderson, Nets: $1,063,384 (2014/15)
- Byron Mullens, Clippers: $1,063,384 (2014/15)
*—The money in Morrow’s player option is only 50% guaranteed, according to ShamSports. It’s fully guaranteed as long as any of a specific set of injuries doesn’t cause him to miss 30 or more games this season or, providing Morrow opts in, 15 of the first 30 games in 2014/15.
ShamSports was used in the creation of this post.