The 15 free agents who turned down player or early terminations this year knew what they were doing, by and large. A dozen of them wound up with deals that give them better average annual value than they would have made on their respective option years. No one made out better than Goran Dragic, who decided against a $7.5MM option and wound up with a five-year deal worth more than $85MM instead, a leap of greater than $9.5MM per year.
Still, two players took a financial hit when they opted out. David West‘s was largely voluntary, as he signed a two-year deal for the minimum salary, well beneath his market value, not long after turning down $12.6MM for next year from the Pacers. Paul Pierce turned a player option on his full mid-level deal with the Wizards into a cheaper taxpayer’s mid-level contract with the Clippers.
One case still remains open, but chances seem better that Smith joins West and Pierce among those taking pay cuts than the 12 who cashed in. Smith could have had nearly $6.4MM from the Cavs for next season, but he elected free agency instead, and Cleveland, the only title contender with the capacity to sign him outright for the value of his option or greater, is reportedly letting a dwindling market dictate his price.
Below are the 12 players who signed contracts that are more lucrative on a yearly basis than the options they turned down, ranked by increase in average annual value:
- Goran Dragic — turned down $7.5MM, signed for five years, $85,002,250 ($17,000,450 average annual value).
- Al-Farouq Aminu — turned down $1,100,602, signed for four years, $30MM ($7.5MM average annual value).
- Kevin Love — turned down $16,744,218, signed for five years, $113,211,750 ($22,642,350 average annual value).
- Ed Davis — turned down $1,100,602, signed for three years, $20MM ($6,666,667 average annual value).
- Brook Lopez — turned down $16,744,218, signed for three years, $63,497,025 ($21,165,675 average annual value).
- Dwyane Wade — turned down $16.125MM, signed for one year, $20MM.
- Alan Anderson — turned down $1,333,484, signed for one year, $4MM.
- Thaddeus Young — turned down $10,221,739, signed for four years, $50MM ($12.5MM average annual value).
- Monta Ellis — turned down $8.72MM, signed for four years, $43.981MM ($10,995,250 average annual value).
- LeBron James — turned down $21,573,398, signed for two years, $46,974,673 ($23,487,337 average annual value).
- Jameer Nelson — turned down $2,854,940, signed for three years, $13,621,575 ($4,540,525 average annual value).
- Arron Afflalo — turned down $7.75MM, signed for two years, $16MM ($8MM average annual value).
Here are three players who opted out and either wound up taking pay cuts or remain in free agency:
- David West — turned down $12.6MM, signed for two years, $3,050,846 ($1,525,423 average annual value).
- Paul Pierce — turned down $5,543,725, signed for three years, $10,583,760 ($3,527,920 average annual value).
- J.R. Smith — turned down $6,399,750.
The Basketball Insiders salary pages were used in the creation of this post.
Aside from West’s minimum-salary deal, which signing listed here surprised you the most? Leave a comment to tell us.