The Hornets are exercising their 2024/25 rookie scale team option on center Mark Williams, but will decline James Bouknight‘s fourth-year option for the same season, reports Rod Boone of The Charlotte Observer.
The decision on Williams was a given. The 15th pick in the 2022 draft, he emerged as Charlotte’s starting center down the stretch of his rookie season and has carried over that role to 2023/24. Through three games this season, Williams is averaging 11.0 points and 8.3 rebounds in 24.7 minutes per night.
Williams’ $4,094,280 salary for 2024/25 is now fully guaranteed. The Hornets will have to decide a year from now on his $6,276,531 team option for ’25/26.
It’s far rarer for rookie scale team options to be declined, but it doesn’t come as a huge surprise that Charlotte will pass on Bouknight’s $6,064,496 salary for ’24/25.
The 23-year-old, who was drafted 11th overall in 2021, has failed to establish himself as a regular rotation player in Charlotte through two NBA seasons, averaging 5.1 points per game on .353/.316/.770 shooting in 65 appearances (12.6 MPG).
Bouknight has also had some legal troubles since becoming a Hornet and is currently recovering from surgery to repair a meniscus injury in his left knee, so he didn’t get an opportunity in the preseason to show he deserves a longer look in Steve Clifford‘s rotation this fall.
The option decision on Bouknight means he’ll be an unrestricted free agent in 2024. The Hornets – or whichever team has Bouknight on its roster at season’s end – won’t be able to offer him a starting salary that exceeds his declined option salary of $6,064,496, though rival suitors would have the ability to go higher. Barring a major turnaround from the former UConn standout, those higher offers seem unlikely to materialize.
As our tracker shows, the Hornets only picked up one of their three 2024/25 rookie scale team options. Kai Jones‘ option was also turned down when he was waived by Charlotte earlier this month, meaning neither of the team’s 2021 first-rounders will finish his rookie contract.