Outside of the occasional back-of-the-roster transaction – like Orlando signing Mychal Mulder to a two-way contract earlier today – the first few weeks of the NBA’s regular season are generally a fairly quiet time for roster moves.
However, one noteworthy deadline arrives next Monday — teams have until November 1 to exercise the 2022/23 third- and fourth-year rookie scale options for players who were first-round picks in the 2019 and 2020 drafts. For instance, the Cavaliers will have to pick up the fourth-year option for 2019 first-rounder Darius Garland, while the Hornets will have to exercise the third-year option for 2020 first-rounder LaMelo Ball.
Typically, the deadline for these decisions is October 31, but that’s a Sunday this year. When the deadline falls on a weekend, it’s moved to the next business day, per CBA expert Larry Coon.
As our tracker shows, there are still a number of options that have yet to be picked up, including Garland’s and Ball’s. However, there’s no suspense about whether those ones – or most others – will be exercised.
Rookie scale contracts for productive rotation players are among the biggest bargains in the NBA. Most teams even pick up their options on players who haven’t cracked the rotation, since controlling a young player with upside is usually worth the modest cost of his option.
Here’s the list of option decisions that have yet to be announced or reported:
- Romeo Langford (fourth year, $5,634,257)
- Grant Williams (fourth year, $4,306,281)
- Aaron Nesmith (third year, $3,804,360)
- Payton Pritchard (third year, $2,239,200)
- Darius Garland (fourth year, $8,920,795)
- Isaac Okoro (third year, $7,040,880)
- Dylan Windler (fourth year, $4,037,278)
Golden State Warriors
- Kevin Porter Jr. (fourth year, $3,217,631)
- Goga Bitadze (fourth year, $4,765,339)
- Udoka Azubuike (third year, $2,174,880)
It wouldn’t be a shock if all 18 of these options are ultimately picked up, but there are a few players who are more at risk than others.
Windler, for instance, has been limited to just 32 games since being drafted in 2019 due to health problems and isn’t a lock to have his $4MM option for 2022/23 exercised.
Azubuike logged garbage-time minutes in just 15 games as a rookie and doesn’t project to have a rotation role in Utah anytime soon. Third-year options are rarely declined and Azubuike’s $2.17MM salary would be very modest, but we saw the Clippers turn down Mfiondu Kabengele‘s option at the same price point a year ago.
Langford, Bitadze, and Smith are among the other players whose option decisions won’t be automatic, though I’d be a little surprised if their teams don’t opt in.
We’ll continue passing along all of these option decisions as they’re reported over the next week, so be sure to keep an eye on our tracker for the latest updates.