Bryn Forbes

How Players Who Declined Options Fared In Free Agency

Of the 16 veterans who had player options on their contracts for the 2021/22 season, seven picked up those options, forgoing free agency for another year of security. However, that leaves nine players who opted out and reached the free agent market.

For some players, that decision was an easy one. For instance, Norman Powell was long believed to be in line for a multiyear deal in the range of $15-20MM per year, so exercising his $11.6MM player option never would’ve made any sense.

The decision wasn’t so easy for every player who opted out though. Now that we’re five weeks into free agency, we want to look back on those decisions to see if they paid off for the nine players who opted out.

Let’s dive in…


The biggest wins:

  • Kawhi Leonard
    • Option: $36,016,200 (Clippers)
    • New contract: Four years, $176,265,152 (Clippers)
  • Norman Powell
    • Option: $11,615,328 (Trail Blazers)
    • New contract: Five years, $90,000,000 (Trail Blazers)
  • Spencer Dinwiddie
    • Option: $12,302,496 (Nets)
    • New contract: Three years, $54,000,000 (Wizards)
      • Note: Deal includes $8MM in incentives; third year partially guaranteed.

Leonard, Powell, and Dinwiddie all secured raises for the 2021/22 season and increased their overall guarantees exponentially. Leonard tacked on an extra $140MM in guaranteed money, while Powell’s new overall guarantee is nearly eight times more than his option salary.

Dinwiddie’s new contract isn’t quite as favorable as the other two, but it’s still a major win for a player who missed nearly the entire 2020/21 season due to an ACL tear. Even in a worst-case scenario, Dinwiddie will earn $45MM in guaranteed money. He can ensure his third-year salary becomes fully guaranteed by appearing in at least 50 games in each of the next two seasons, and he has the ability to earn even more in incentives.

A solid win:

  • Chris Paul
    • Option: $44,211,146 (Suns)
    • New contract: Four years, $120,000,000 (Suns)
      • Note: Deal includes $75MM in guaranteed money. Third year is partially guaranteed; fourth year is non-guaranteed.

If you want to move Paul to the “biggest wins” group, I wouldn’t argue with that. After all, he increased his overall guarantee by more than $30MM, which is no small feat for a player hitting free agency at age 36.

I’m separating him into his own group because his 2021/22 salary was reduced by more than $13MM as part of his new deal, and I think it’s possible he could’ve gotten more than $30MM in guaranteed money on his next deal if he had simply picked up his option and hit free agency next year.

I certainly don’t blame him for going this route though, given his injury history. And if he continues to play at a high level, the Suns will probably want to keep him for the third year of the deal, which would increase his overall guarantee on this contract to $90MM.

Minor wins:

  • Will Barton
    • Option: $14,669,642 (Nuggets)
    • New contract: Two years, $30,000,000 (Nuggets)
      • Note: Deal includes $2MM in incentives.
  • JaMychal Green
    • Option: $7,559,748 (Nuggets)
    • New contract: Two years, $16,400,000 (Nuggets)
      • Note: Deal includes $400K in incentives.
  • Bobby Portis
    • Option: $3,804,150 (Bucks)
    • New contract: Two years, $8,912,580 (Bucks)
  • Bryn Forbes
    • Option: $2,454,002 (Bucks)
    • New contract: One year, $4,500,000 (Spurs)

The Nuggets took a similar approach to their negotiations with Barton and Green — Denver gave each player a small raise this year, plus a second guaranteed season (Green’s second year is a player option).

The Bucks went that route with Portis too, giving him the biggest raise they could offer using his Non-Bird rights and including a second-year player option on his new deal.

You could make a case that Forbes is a big winner for nearly doubling his 2021/22 salary, but without any future years tacked onto that deal (and given the relatively small salaries involved), I’m classifying it as a modest victory.

The jury’s still out:

Hartenstein is the only one of these nine players who remains unsigned. Based on his solid play with the Cavs down the stretch, turning down his minimum-salary player option seemed like a reasonable bet at the time, but it now looks like he might’ve been better off taking the guaranteed money.

While he’ll probably be signed at some point in the coming weeks, Hartenstein isn’t a lock for a fully guaranteed deal. And even if he gets a guaranteed one-year, minimum-salary contract, it’ll be worth slightly less ($1,729,217) than the option he declined, due to the league’s minimum-salary rules.

Southwest Notes: Doncic, Kidd, Forbes, Celtics, Grizzlies

Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic recently praised new head coach Jason Kidd, calling the chance to play for the 12-time All-Star an “excellent opportunity,” as relayed by BasketNews.com.

“I think he’s an excellent coach who also knows a lot about how to play basketball and how to lead a team,” Doncic said. “It is an excellent opportunity for me to grow and I think it will help me a lot.”

The 22-year-old Doncic is coming off yet another impressive season, averaging 27.7 points, 8.0 rebounds and 8.6 assists per game. Doncic also expressed confidence that the Mavericks, led by the likes of himself, Kristaps Porzingis, and Tim Hardaway Jr., have an opportunity to compete for a championship in 2021/22.

“As I say, that is my goal and I believe that you can always fight,” he explained. “We’ll see how the season goes, but in my opinion we can be there, fighting for everything. I do not know if we need one or two players. We first have to start playing and then we will see what happens.”

There’s more out of the Southwest Division tonight:

  • Spurs guard Bryn Forbes has hired Octagon for his new representation, the agency announced on social media (Twitter link). Forbes signed with San Antonio last month after spending the 2020/21 season with the NBA champion Bucks. Prior to joining Milwaukee, the 28-year-old sharpshooter played his first four seasons with San Antonio, appearing in 261 games. He was previously represented by Excel Sports Management.
  • Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com (Insider link) rates the CelticsGrizzlies trade featuring Kris Dunn, Carsen Edwards and Juan Hernangomez, giving Boston a grade of B and Memphis a C. As we previously relayed, Boston is set to trade Dunn, Edwards and a 2026 second-round pick swap to Memphis in exchange for Hernangomez.
  • In case you missed it, the Spurs decided to waive 25-year-old forward Chandler Hutchison this weekend. San Antonio acquired Hutchison as part of a five-team August trade. He appeared in 25 contests with the Bulls and Wizards last season, averaging 5.7 points and 18.2 minutes per contest.

Contract Details: Forbes, Richardson, R. Williams, Randle

As expected, the Spurs used their room exception to finalize the signing of shooting guard Bryn Forbes, according to Keith Smith of Spotrac (Twitter link). Forbes’ deal with San Antonio, which is worth $4.5MM, only covers one year, so he’ll be an unrestricted free agent in 2022.

Although Forbes’ contract technically doesn’t use up the Spurs’ entire room exception, the amount left ($410K) isn’t big enough to be used on a second player. It’s possible it could come in handy very late in the season, when the prorated portion of the room exception exceeds the prorated minimum salary, but I’d expect it to just go unused.

Our full breakdown of how teams are using their mid-level/room exceptions this season can be found right here.

Here are a few more contract details from around the NBA:

  • The one-year extension that Josh Richardson signed with the Celtics is worth $12,196,094, which represents a 5% raise on 2021/22 salary ($11,615,328), tweets Smith. Because Richardson was traded to Boston just a few weeks ago, extend-and-trade rules limited his raise to 5% of his previous salary.
  • Smith also provides the specifics, down to the dollar, of Robert Williams‘ rookie scale extension with the Celtics (Twitter link). We took a closer look at that deal, along with details on some of the incentives, last week.
  • Julius Randle‘s new four-year extension with the Knicks includes a 15% trade kicker, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (via Twitter). Unlike several other deals with 15% trade kickers, Randle’s contract is well below the maximum, so he’d be in position to earn a sizeable bonus if he’s traded in the coming years.

Southwest Notes: Anderson, Brooks, Forbes, Pelicans

The Grizzlies have not engaged in trade talks with the Cavaliers regarding Kyle Anderson and Dillon Brooks, Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press tweets. A report out of Cleveland suggested that the two forwards were available on the trade market for the right price. Memphis does have a major roster logjam at the moment with 18 players on guaranteed contracts, as noted in our latest roster count.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Whether or not they’ve engaged in talks with the Cavs, the Grizzlies would be wise to explore the market on Brooks, according to Evan Sidery of Basketball News. Brooks’ value is at an all-time high after a playoff series in which he averaged 25.8 PPG, but he may not be the best No. 2 scoring option during Ja Morant‘s prime years. Brooks will be a free agent after the 2022/23 season and Memphis may not want to commit to him long-term.
  • Bryn Forbes strongly considered re-signing with the Bucks before signing up for a second stint with the Spurs, according to Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express News. Forbes declined a player option in order to become a free agent. He’s thrilled to return to the Spurs. “I still had good relationships with everyone here,” he said. “They know what I can do. … When I had the opportunity to come back, I was immediately excited.”
  • The New Orleans Times Picayune trio of Christian Clark, Scott Kushner and Rod Walker believe the Pelicans have improved enough to make the playoffs next season. They also discuss the Lonzo Ball sign-and-trade with the Bulls and the acquisition of Devonte’ Graham from the Hornets.

Spurs Sign Bryn Forbes

AUGUST 25: Three weeks after agreeing to a deal with the Spurs, Forbes has formally signed his new contract, he told Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News (Twitter link).

“It was a great year (in Milwaukee),” Forbes told McDonald. “But I’m happy to be home.”

The terms of Forbes’ contract still aren’t known, but they should surface soon now that the deal is done. The Spurs have used up their cap space, so they may use the room exception to pay Forbes more than the minimum.


AUGUST 4: Free agent shooting guard Bryn Forbes is expected to return for a second stint in San Antonio. Per Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link), the Spurs have agreed to ink old friend Forbes, hot off a championship run with the Bucks, to a new contract. The terms of the agreement have yet to be disclosed.

After going undrafted out of Michigan State in 2016, Forbes impressed San Antonio during a Summer League run with the club.

He then signed on with the Spurs for the start of the 2016/17 season and had been with the team for his entire NBA career, until departing for Milwaukee on a two-year, $4.79MM deal in free agency during the 2020 offseason.

Earlier this summer, Forbes declined the player option on the second year of his Milwaukee deal after proving himself as a solid offensive contributor during the Bucks’ 2021 postseason run.

Forbes, 28, appeared in 70 games with the Bucks during the abbreviated 72-game 2020/21 NBA season. In 19.3 MPG, the 6’2″ wing averaged 10.0 PPG and 1.6 RPG, with a stellar shooting line of .473/.452/.770.

The Spurs have been active in free agency thus far. The team has also added Doug McDermott, Zach Collins and NBL big man Jock Londale in free agency. San Antonio also moved 2020/21 leading scorer DeMar DeRozan in a sign-and-trade deal that will net them future draft equity, plus veteran forwards Thaddeus Young and Al-Farouq Aminu.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Free Agent Rumors: Lowry, Caruso, Cavs, Trent, Batum, Bradley

The Pelicans are viewed as the most likely of Kyle Lowry‘s prospective suitors to guarantee a third year in their offer to the veteran point guard, sources tell Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. However, it’s the Heat that are considered the current frontrunners to land Lowry.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski confirms as much in his latest report, suggesting that the Heat are ready and willing to attach assets to Goran Dragic to entice the Raptors to accept a sign-and-trade offer, with Precious Achiuwa and draft picks among the pieces that could be in play. According to Wojnarowski, the Pelicans and Mavericks – rumored to be two of Lowry’s most aggressive suitors – are beginning to consider other options as they look for a starting point guard.

Here are a few more updates on free agents, with the start of the 2021 free agent period less than 24 hours away:

Free Agent Rumors: J. Collins, Lowry, Z. Collins, Forbes, Celtics, More

In his latest rumor-packed article for Bleacher Report, Jake Fischer echoes a Marc Stein report from Friday, writing that John Collins is viewed as increasingly likely to return to the Hawks despite anticipated interest from the Mavericks and Spurs, among others.

Collins’ new deal may exceed $120MM in total value, Fischer notes, though it’s not clear if that’d be for four years or five. Collins’ projected maximum with Atlanta is about $126MM over four years (or $163MM over five), whereas his max with a new team would be approximately $121MM over four years.

Here are a few other rumors on 2021 free agents, including several more updates from Fischer:

  • With the Pelicans, Mavericks, and Heat all expected to make a strong push for Kyle Lowry, the point’s guard ultimate landing spot could come down to which team includes the most guaranteed money in the third year of its offer, says Fischer.
  • The Raptors, Pelicans, Thunder, and Spurs are among the teams known to have interest in big man Zach Collins, sources tell Fischer. Collins isn’t getting a qualifying offer from Portland, so he’ll be an unrestricted free agent.
  • The Nets may be the leading candidates to sign free agent sharpshooter Bryn Forbes, according to Fischer, who also names the Bulls, Cavaliers, Mavericks, and Pelicans as teams to watch.
  • Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald (Twitter link) hears that the Celtics have a list of about seven or eight top free agent targets, including veteran Spurs guard Patty Mills.
  • Otto Porter‘s representatives have been targeting a mid-level type contract for their client, but that’s probably a long shot unless a front office bids against itself, says J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star (Twitter links). The veteran forward is coming off a four-year, $106MM+ deal.
  • The Nuggets are expected to add a backup center in free agency, according to Mike Singer of The Denver Post, who tweets that a new deal with JaVale McGee is one possibility to address that spot.

Bucks’ Bryn Forbes Opting Out Of Contract

Bucks guard Bryn Forbes won’t pick up the player option on the second year of his contract, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. As a result, he’ll become an unrestricted free agent.

The decision had been expected, since Forbes’ 2021/22 salary would have been a modest $2.45MM if he had exercised the option. Coming off a season in which he played regular minutes for the NBA champions, the 28-year-old presumably feels confident about earning a higher salary – and perhaps a multiyear deal – on the open market.

Forbes, who signed with Milwaukee after four seasons in San Antonio, averaged 10.0 points per game in 70 contests (19.3 MPG) in 2020/21, recording an impressive shooting line of .473/.452/.770. His 45.2% mark on shots from beyond the arc ranked fourth in the NBA among qualified players.

Forbes’ decision to opt out doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t negotiate a new deal with the Bucks. However, the club’s ability to offer him a raise will be limited, since he’ll only have Non-Bird rights. Unless they dip into their mid-level exception to re-sign him, the Bucks would only be able to offer Forbes a starting salary worth about $2.8MM.

Milwaukee will be in a similar bind with Bobby Portis if he opts out of his contract. Portis has a $3.8MM player option that he’s considered likely to turn down.

Free Agency Notes: Portis, Forbes, Cap Room, Dinwiddie

Bucks rotation players Bobby Portis ($3.8MM) and Bryn Forbes ($2.4MM) both have player options for the 2021/22 season, but are expected to turn down them in search of new contracts, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype said on his latest podcast with Yossi Gozlan. Since Milwaukee only has Non-Bird rights on both Portis and Forbes, it’ll be a challenge to bring them back, Gozlan notes.

Scotto and Gozlan discussed a handful of other free agency situations on the HoopsHype Podcast, examining the likelihood of P.J. Tucker returning to the Bucks, exploring whether Kyle Lowry is a realistic target for the Pelicans, and suggesting that the Hornets may be in the market for multiple centers – rather than just one – on the free agent market.

Here are a few more items related to the NBA’s upcoming free agent period:

Central Notes: Love, DiVincenzo, Pistons, Gottlieb

Kevin Love‘s season was marred by injury and declining production, but Cavaliers GM Koby Altman says the veteran forward is still part of the team’s plans, according to an ESPN report. Love appeared in just 25 games due to a calf injury.

“We want him to be here,” Altman said. “We signed him to an extension for that reason, to be here when we want to make that next step. And so we’re going to hopefully rely on him heavily next year after a significant summer.”

There are still two years and $60.2MM remaining on Love’s extension, which would make it difficult for Altman to trade him.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The Bucks have lost a key member of their backcourt, Donte DiVincenzo, due to a torn ligament in his left ankle. The Athletic’s Eric Nehm takes a look at which players might absorb DiVincenzo’s minutes. Bryn Forbes, Pat Connaughton and P.J. Tucker could pick up the slack offensively with Forbes moving into the starting lineup. But it will be difficult to replace DiVincenzo on the defensive end. Coach Mike Budenholzer may give more playing time to Jeff Teague, though he could also opt to slice his rotation to eight players.
  • Nearly half of the players on the Pistons’ roster could become free agents this summer. The Detroit News’ Rod Beard takes a look at who’s likely to stay and who will go.
  • Cavaliers assistant coach Lindsay Gottlieb got a head coaching offer from USC that was too good financially for her to pass up, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com details. “I said, ʻI didn’t come to the NBA to turn right around. I’m really enjoying what I’m doing. I feel like I’m part of something,’” Gottlieb said of her initial reaction when USC came calling. “ʻHowever, I do feel I want to be a head coach again whether that’s men’s college basketball, women’s college basketball, the WNBA. I understand what USC can be and it’s intriguing to me to have a conversation. I got off the phone after 25 minutes and I didn’t feel too strong either way.” The school’s hard sell convinced her to take that job.