A number of NBA contracts include player options in the final year. Those option years give the player the opportunity to either opt into the final year of his deal, finishing out his contract, or to decline the option and hit the free agent market a year early.
Over the last two years, only eight of 53 veterans who held player options on their contracts have actually exercised those options. Half of those eight players (Tim Duncan, Caron Butler, Mo Williams, and Spencer Hawes) haven’t played a single NBA minute since picking up their options, having either retired or been waived. Another one of the eight (Chris Paul) only opted in because it cleared the way for him to be traded to his preferred destination.
In other words, if you had a player option decision to make during the last two offseasons, declining that option was almost a no-brainer. That’s unlikely to be the case again in 2018, however.
With less cap room available around the NBA this summer and teams not expected to be as aggressive on the free agent market as they were in 2017 or – especially – 2016, exercising a player option may be the most prudent move for a veteran mulling his future. After all, in many cases, there’s no guarantee that he’d do better on the open market.
This year’s player options are listed below. Option decisions are due by June 29 unless a player’s contract specifically calls for an earlier deadline, so we’ll continue to update this list through the end of June to note the latest decisions.
- Cory Joseph, Pacers ($7,945,000): Opted in
- Jeremy Lin, Nets ($12,516,746): Opted in
- Garrett Temple, Kings ($8,000,000)
- Milos Teodosic, Clippers ($6,300,000)
- Ron Baker, Knicks ($4,544,400)
- Jamal Crawford, Timberwolves ($4,544,400): Opting out
- Danny Green, Spurs ($10,000,000)
- Jodie Meeks, Wizards ($3,454,500)
- Austin Rivers, Clippers ($12,650,000)
- Iman Shumpert, Kings ($11,011,234)
- Wilson Chandler, Nuggets ($12,800,562)
- Kevin Durant, Warriors ($26,250,000): Opting out
- Rudy Gay, Spurs ($8,826,300)
- Paul George, Thunder ($20,703,384)
- LeBron James, Cavaliers ($35,607,968)
- Wesley Johnson, Clippers ($6,134,520): Opted in
- Wesley Matthews, Mavericks ($18,622,514): Opted in
- Carmelo Anthony, Thunder ($27,928,140) *
- Darrell Arthur, Nuggets ($7,464,912)
- Thaddeus Young, Pacers ($13,764,045)
- Dewayne Dedmon, Hawks ($6,300,000)
- DeAndre Jordan, Clippers ($24,119,025)
- Enes Kanter, Knicks ($18,622,514)
- Kosta Koufos, Kings ($8,739,500): Opted in
- Joffrey Lauvergne, Spurs ($1,656,092)
- Mike Muscala, Hawks ($5,000,000)
- Kyle O’Quinn, Knicks ($4,256,250)
- Jason Smith, Wizards ($5,450,000): Opted in
* Note: Anthony has an early termination option on his contract. This isn’t technically a player option, but practically speaking, it serves the same function.