Some NBA teams are spending the waning days of the summer debating contract extensions for players entering the final season of their rookie-scale contracts, but those aren't the only decisions that clubs must make involving recent former first-round picks. The third and fourth seasons of every rookie-scale contract are team options, and the decisions on those options are due early. They must either be exercised or declined before the second and third seasons of those deals, respectively.
Most of the time, clubs pick up those relatively cheap options, but sometimes, players simply haven't met expectations, prompting their teams to take a pass. That's the case with 14 of the 60 players picked in the first round in 2010 and 2011 — guys who would otherwise still be on their rookie deals. Here's an update on each of them.
Signed with NBA teams
- Wesley Johnson (2010 No. 4) — He wound up with a one-year, minimum-salary deal from the Lakers this summer. The Suns turned down Johnson's fourth-year option last fall, shortly after acquiring him via trade.
- Al-Farouq Aminu (2010 No. 8) — No one on this list was affected less by his team's decision not to exercise his option. He re-signed with the Pelicans this summer for a one-year contract worth $3,749,602 — exactly what he would have made in his option year.
- James Anderson (2010 No. 20) — He's bounced around quite a bit since the Spurs decided in 2011 not to exercise is third year option, signing contracts with the Hawks, Spurs again, and Rockets. Houston waived him last month, but the Sixers, with former Rockets executive Sam Hinkie as their new GM, claimed him and assumed his non-guaranteed contract.
- Daniel Orton (2010 No. 29) — The Thunder signed him to a three-year contract right before last season, but the final two seasons are non-guaranteed, and he's expressed a willingness to be released from the deal if he could find more playing time elsewhere.
- Luke Babbitt (2010 No. 16) — He's signed a one-year deal with Russian club Nizhny Novgorod. The deal doesn't include an out that would allow him to return to the NBA this season.
- Craig Brackins (2010 No. 21) — He'll join 2009 first-rounder Christian Eyenga in Poland this season with Stelmet Zielona Gora.
- Nolan Smith (2011 No. 21) — Last month it appeared that Smith would take part in Celtics training camp, but he wound up signing with Cedevita Zagreb of Croatia instead.
- JaJuan Johnson (2011 No. 27) — He inked a deal with Italy's Giorgio Tesi Pistoia after spending summer league with the Pistons in hopes of finding NBA work.
- Cole Aldrich (2010 No. 11) — The big man worked out for the Kings this month, and the Knicks are reportedly interested as well.
- Xavier Henry (2010 No. 12) — The Pelicans, who declined his 2013/14 option, took the additional step of renouncing his rights in July, and there hasn't been much news on the shooting guard since. A Sixers beat writer made reference to Henry as someone who could interest the Sixers, but the only other news we've heard on him this summer involves his exploits in pickup games.
- Elliot Williams (2010 No. 22) — He missed all of 2012/13 after tearing his Achilles tendon last September, and he sat out of summer league after having hopes of using it as a launching pad for a new deal. It doesn't sound like re-signing with the Blazers is an option.
- Damion James (2010 No. 24) — The Nets gave him a 10-day contract a couple months after he and fellow 2010 first-rounder James Anderson failed to make the Hawks on a training camp invitation, but Brooklyn didn't renew his deal after the 10 days were up. He spent summer league with the Heat after attending a Bucks free agent mini-camp in June.
- Dominique Jones (2010 No. 25) — He was linked to the Nets and Bucks, but that was back in June, and no other NBA teams have been reported to have interest since then. If he can't get an NBA deal, he would apparently prefer playing overseas to another stint in the D-League.
- Lazar Hayward (2010 No. 30) — He went to Houston as part of the James Harden trade, but he didn't spent much time with the Rockets, who waived him right after they acquired him. He had a pair of brief tenures with the Timberwolves this past season, but the club didn't pick him up again after his 10-day contract expired, and we haven't heard him linked to another team since.