October 31 represented the deadline for teams to exercise their rookie scale team options for the 2018/19 season, and the majority of those options were picked up, as expected.
Although making option decisions a year early can be challenging, rookie scale salaries are affordable enough that most of those decisions are no-brainers, assuming the player is part of his club’s rotation. Of the 2018/19 rookie scale options, the most expensive one was Karl-Anthony Towns‘ fourth-year option, which will count for $7,839,435 against the Timberwolves‘ cap. That’s less than the value of the mid-level exception, and most are much cheaper than that.
Still, not every rookie scale option is a great investment. For clubs looking to reduce future tax bills or create some additional cap flexibility going forward, it may make sense to turn down an option for a former first-round pick who has underwhelmed in his first couple NBA seasons.
This year, eight available rookie scale options weren’t exercised, with Jahlil Okafor and Mario Hezonja – a pair of top-five picks in 2015 – heading the group of players who will now become unrestricted free agents next summer.
Here’s the full list of those players whose options weren’t picked up:
- Jahlil Okafor, Sixers (fourth year, $6,313,832)
- Mario Hezonja, Magic (fourth year, $5,167,231)
- Rashad Vaughn, Bucks (fourth year, $2,901,565)
- Josh Huestis, Thunder (fourth year, $2,243,326)
- Chris McCullough, Wizards (fourth year, $2,243,326)
- Kevon Looney, Warriors (fourth year, $2,227,081)
- Wade Baldwin, Grizzlies (third year, $1,955,160)
- Note: Baldwin was waived by the Grizzlies this month.
- Brice Johnson, Clippers (third year, $1,544,951)
For the full list of the players whose rookie scale options for 2018/19 were exercised, be sure to check out our tracker.