The NBA will resume its 2019/20 season in July, with the league’s top 22 teams taking part in the restart at Walt Disney World in Florida. However, not every player on those 22 clubs’ rosters will be participating in the resumption of the season.
Players will be permitted to voluntarily opt out of the restart for any reason without facing a fine or suspension from the NBA or their respective teams. A player who opts out would lose a portion of his pay for 2019/20, forfeiting 1/92.6th of his salary for each game missed (up to a maximum of 14 games). Otherwise though, he wouldn’t receive any additional penalty.
If a player voluntarily opts out anytime before August 14, his team can sign a “substitute player” to replace him. The replacement player will receive a rest-of-season, minimum-salary contract and will become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, regardless of how many years of NBA service he has. Meanwhile, the player being replaced becomes ineligible to participate in the remainder of the ’19/20 season.
We’ll use this space to keep tabs on the players opting out and the substitute players replacing them. Here are the players who have voluntarily withdrawn from participating:
Trevor Ariza, F, Trail Blazers (story)
Ariza would have missed a one-month visitation period with his son if he had opted to play this summer, since family members aren’t permitted to join players on the NBA’s Disney campus until the end of August.
Ariza, meanwhile, has a $12.8MM salary for 2020/21, but it’s only partially guaranteed for $1.8MM, so he’s no lock to remain on Portland’s roster beyond this season.
Avery Bradley, G, Lakers (story)
Bradley is the most intriguing player to have opted out so far, since he’s the only one who’s a member of a legitimate championship contender. Although Bradley has been among the players voicing concerns about the resumption of the season drawing attention away from the fight for social justice, family considerations – including the well-being of his three children – were said to be the primary factor in his decision.
Davis Bertans, F, Wizards (story)
The first player to opt out of the restart, Bertans did so because he has a history of ACL injuries and doesn’t want to jeopardize his health ahead of a potentially big payday this summer. He projects to be one of 2020’s top unrestricted free agents, following a career year, and his decision won’t affect the Wizards’ desire to re-sign him — it’s still considered a top priority for the franchise.
If Washington were higher in the standings, Bertans may have made a different decision, but the team faces long odds to even make the playoffs. And even if the Wizards do defy those odds and claim the No. 8 seed, the Bucks would likely make quick work of them in round one.
Willie Cauley-Stein, C, Mavericks (story)
Cauley-Stein and his partner are expecting a newborn child in July, prompting him to skip the restart to spend time with his family. With a $2.29MM player option for 2020/21, he could still return to Dallas next season.
Despite missing Cauley-Stein and injured big man Dwight Powell in their frontcourt, the Mavs didn’t make it a priority to add another center. With Courtney Lee and Jalen Brunson also on the shelf due to injuries, Dallas instead focused on adding backcourt depth, reaching a deal with veteran guard Trey Burke to become the substitute player for Cauley-Stein.
Wilson Chandler, F, Nets (story)
An unrestricted free agent at season’s end, Chandler has decided to use the summer to spend more time with his family, including his grandmother (who raised him) and his three children.
Like the Mavs, Brooklyn has been hit hard by injuries, with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Nicolas Claxton also sidelined for the return to play. Those injured players aren’t eligible to be replaced by a substitute player, but Chandler is. That substitute player is Lance Thomas, who has now signed with the Nets.
Thabo Sefolosha, F, Rockets (story)
Sefolosha, who opted out on July 1, had previously expressed concerns about heading to Walt Disney World for an extended duration of time, away from his family with the coronavirus pandemic still on the rise, calling it a “huge commitment.” He’ll be an unrestricted free agent this fall, so it’s possible he has played his last game with Houston.
Caleb Swanigan, F, Trail Blazers
Swanigan cited person reasons when he decided to opt out of the NBA’s restart back on July 1. He rarely saw any action for the Blazers, who decided not to sign a substitute player to replace him. Swanigan will be an unrestricted free agent this fall.
In addition to the players who are voluntarily opting out of the restart for a wide variety of reasons, there will also be players who opt out or are replaced as a result of a COVID-19 diagnosis. Here are the players who won’t participate in the remainder of the season due to a positive COVID-19 test:
- Spencer Dinwiddie, G, Nets (story)
- DeAndre Jordan, C, Nets (story)
- Taurean Prince, F, Nets (story)
- Michael Beasley, F, Nets (story)
- Josh Gray, G (story)
- The Pelicans announced in early July that they’d signed Sindarius Thornwell as a substitute player, without indicating which player Thornwell was replacing. Three Pelicans had tested positive for COVID-19 at that point, and a subsequent report suggested one of those players was being replaced by Thornwell. When the NBA announced New Orleans’ official roster, Gray wasn’t on it, so it appears that he was the one replaced by Thornwell.
- Gary Payton II, G (story)
Players who have been ruled out of the restart due to injuries won’t forfeit their salaries and aren’t eligible to be replaced by substitute players, so they’re not listed here. However, that growing list of players is not insignificant — it includes Bradley Beal, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and John Wall, among others.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.