Celtics center Aron Baynes has exercised his player option for the 2019/20 season, league sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). The decision will ensure that Baynes remains under contract with Boston for another year, earning a salary of $5,453,280, per Basketball Insiders.
After initially joining the Celtics for the 2017/18 season, Baynes re-signed with the club on a two-year, $10.65MM contract last summer. Like teammate Kyrie Irving, he had until June 13 to decide on whether to opt in for next season or to opt out and head back to the open market as an unrestricted free agent. Unlike Irving, Baynes will be picking up that option.
Although he battled injuries and was limited to just 51 games in 2018/19, Baynes has been a reliable presence in the middle for Boston over the last two seasons. In 132 total regular season contests, he has averaged 5.8 PPG and 5.1 RPG while playing solid frontcourt defense.
A source tells Keith Smith of RealGM (Twitter link) that Baynes opted in with an understanding that the Celtics don’t plan on including him in a trade package this summer.
With Baynes locked in for 2019/20, the Celtics are now carrying just over $70MM in guaranteed contracts. That doesn’t include salaries for Irving, Al Horford, Terry Rozier, or Marcus Morris, all of whom will be free agents.
Boston figures to operate as an over-the-cap team unless perhaps Irving and Horford both walk, which isn’t viewed as a likely scenario at this point — rumors of Kyrie departing continue to swirl, but there have been no indications that Horford plans to jump ship.
Baynes, who becomes the ninth veteran to exercise a player option already this offseason, as our tracker shows, is now on track to become an unrestricted free agent in 2020. He’ll have full Bird rights at that point.
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