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Dwight Powell Exercises 2019/20 Player Option

Mavericks big man Dwight Powell has officially exercised his player option for the 2019/20 season, reports Marc Stein of The New York Times (via Twitter). As a result of the move, Powell will earn a $10,259,375 salary next season, per Basketball Insiders.

There were conflicting reports earlier this spring on whether Powell would opt in or out. After a May report suggested that he was expected to hit the open market, a June update confirmed that an opt-in was anticipated instead.

The Mavericks have long indicated that they plan to lock up Powell to a longer-term deal, which could’ve been done whether or not he exercised his player option. The conflicting reports on his option decision may have stemmed from confusion over whether he’d sign a brand-new deal with Dallas after opting out or sign an extension after opting in.

Powell, who will turn 28 next month, averaged a career-high 10.6 PPG to go along with 5.3 RPG, 1.5 APG, and a .597 FG% in 77 games (21.6 MPG) last season for the Mavs. The former second-round pick has spent the last four seasons in Dallas, and team management wants to ensure he sticks around a little longer.

Team owner Mark Cuban spoke at season’s end about a three-year extension for Powell, though it’s not clear if he meant three new years or three years in total. Either way, I’d expect Dallas to work on completing that deal in the coming weeks.

Even with Powell’s salary on their books, the Mavs should enter the free agent period with at least $29MM in cap room available, as we detailed in April. Meanwhile, Powell would be eligible to sign an extension that takes effect in 2020/21 with a starting salary worth up to 120% of his previous salary.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Hassan Whiteside Plans To Opt In For 2019/20

4:21pm: There’s a growing belief that if and when Whiteside opts in, he may do so while asking for a trade, tweets Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. Given his $27MM+ salary, it won’t be easy for the Heat to make a deal.

11:24am: Barring an unforeseen development in the coming days, Heat center Hassan Whiteside intends to opt into the final season of his contract, exercising his 2019/20 player option, a league source tells Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

Picking up that option will make Whiteside the Heat’s highest-paid player for next season, locking in a salary of $27,093,018, per Basketball Insiders. The veteran big man will subsequently be on track to reach unrestricted free agency during the summer of 2020.

Whiteside, who turned 30 years old last Thursday, averaged 12.3 PPG and 11.3 RPG with 1.9 BPG in 72 games (53 starts) for the Heat last season. While his numbers were solid, Whiteside’s 23.3 minutes per game represented his lowest mark since he arrived in Miami in 2014.

Whiteside hasn’t been thrilled about his reduced role and inconsistent minutes over the last two seasons. Still, despite expressing a little dissatisfaction with his playing time, he was always considered a virtual lock to exercise his player option to stick with the Heat — he’d have no chance of matching his $27MM salary for ’19/20 on the open market.

With option salaries for both Whiteside and Goran Dragic on their books for next season, the Heat’s guaranteed salary commitments will increase to nearly $130MM for just eight players, plus a $3.64MM cap hold for their first-round pick. The team figures to thoroughly explore ways to cut costs during the offseason to avoid ending up in tax territory with a roster that missed the playoffs this past season.

As our player option decision tracker shows, 10 players have already opted in for the 2019/20 season, with Whiteside and Dwight Powell (Mavericks) both planning to do so as well.

Here are a few more brief Heat notes:

  • According to Jackson, the Heat and Grizzlies discussed a possible Mike Conley trade, but didn’t see eye to eye on compensation and those talks went nowhere. The two sides didn’t rule out the possibility of revisiting discussions later in the summer.
  • Jimmy Butler has told confidants that he’d be happy to meet with the Heat in free agency if the team wants to make a pitch, tweets Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. Miami doesn’t project to have any cap room available this offseason though, so the idea of Butler joining the team is an extreme long shot.
  • University of Miami prospect Dewan Hernandez cancelled a workout with the Heat due to scheduling issues and an overcrowded workout calendar, writes Jackson.

Kings’ Harrison Barnes To Decline 2019/20 Option

Kings forward Harrison Barnes has decided to turn down his player option for the 2019/20 season, agent Jeff Schwartz tells ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Rather than earning a $25,102,512 salary for next season, per Basketball Insiders, Barnes will reach the open market as an unrestricted free agent.

Barnes’ decision doesn’t necessarily mean that his time in Sacramento is over. The Kings will still hold his Bird rights, so they could offer him up to five years and there are no limitations on the salary they could offer up to the maximum. Wojnarowski hears from sources that the two sides are open to exploring a new deal together.

Still, Barnes will have the opportunity to consider other suitors in free agency this summer, if he so chooses. His decision is somewhat surprising since he’s unlikely to match his $25MM option salary for 2019/20, but he should receive offers that comfortably exceed that total number over multiple years, as his ability to make outside shots and guard multiple positions will appeal to NBA teams.

Barnes, 27, was traded from the Mavericks to the Kings at February’s trade deadline in the third year of the four-year, maximum-salary contract he signed with Dallas back in 2016. For the season, he recorded 16.4 PPG and 4.7 RPG with a .420/.395/.824 shooting line in 77 games (32.9 MPG).

As I noted when I previewed the Kings’ cap situation this spring, the team can create up to about $62.6MM in cap room with Barnes off its books for 2019/20. However, Sacramento hasn’t typically been a popular destination for top free agents, and the Kings acquired Barnes in the hopes that he’d be their answer at small forward.

It could be in both sides’ best interests to work out a new agreement once free agency begins, but we’ll have to wait to see how strong that mutual interest is. If Barnes doesn’t return to Sacramento, the club will have plenty of flexibility to pursue his replacement.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Al Horford Won’t Exercise 2019/20 Player Option

Celtics center Al Horford won’t pick up the 2019/20 player option on his contract, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reports (via Twitter) that Horford is on track to reach unrestricted free agency.

If Horford had exercised his option for next season, it would have locked in his $30,123,015 salary. Instead, he’ll negotiate a new deal with Boston or a new team. Wojnarowski adds (via Twitter) that Horford and the Celtics have mutual interest in working out a new agreement in free agency.

While there has been an expectation all along that Horford and the Celtics will continue their relationship, either via his player option or a longer-term deal, the new level of uncertainty about the future in Boston has rival teams feeling more optimistic about making a run at the veteran big man, tweets ESPN’s Zach Lowe.

The Celtics’ original Plan A for this offseason was to lock up Kyrie Irving on a new contract and swing a deal for Anthony Davis. However, with Davis headed to Los Angeles and Irving’s future in Boston looking more tenuous than ever – Kyrie seems to have “essentially ghosted” the team, per Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe – the franchise’s direction is no longer clear.

Retaining Horford will be crucial for the Celtics after another season in which he served as the roster’s frontcourt anchor. He was limited to 68 games due to injury and his numbers (13.6 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 4.2 APG, and a .535 FG%) don’t necessarily jump off the page, but the 33-year-old was a linchpin on defense and an important screen-setter and pick-and-pop weapon on offense.

If the Celtics and Horford can work out a longer-term agreement that starts closer to $20MM, it should allow the team to re-sign Terry Rozier and have access to the full mid-level exception this offseason, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. As Marks points out (via Twitter), the club could also clear up to about $27MM in cap room, but that would mean renouncing Horford and Rozier along with Irving and Marcus Morris, which probably isn’t realistic.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Julius Randle To Decline Player Option

Julius Randle will turn down his player option for next season and hit the free agent market, Shams Charania of The Athletic relays (Twitter link). The former No. 7 overall pick would have made slightly over $9MM during the 2019/20 season if he exercised his option.

Randle signed a two-year deal that contained the player option with the Pelicans last offseason. He arguably had his best season as a professional, posting career-highs in points (21.4) and player efficiency rating (21.0) while adding a 3-pointer to his game.

The decision to hit free agent does not necessarily mean that Randle won’t be back with the Pelicans. Regardless, New Orleans’ frontcourt will look much different next season with Anthony Davis out in Los Angeles and Zion Williamson on his way to town.

Pelicans Agree To Trade Anthony Davis To Lakers

The Pelicans have reached an agreement to trade All-Star big man Anthony Davis to the Lakers for guards Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart, forward Brandon Ingram and three first-round picks, including the No. 4 overall pick in this year’s draft, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

The Lakers immediately become championship contenders with Davis joining forces with LeBron James. Davis’ agent Rich Paul, also James’ agent, had tried to steer trade talks toward the Lakers over the winter after Davis’ desire to be traded was made public. But Davis didn’t get his wish at the time.

Paul and Davis recently met with the Pelicans’ new top executive, David Griffin, who tried to convince Davis to rescind his trade request. Davis declined and expressed his desire to play long-term for either the Lakers or Knicks.

GM Rob Pelinka, who has been under fire after criticism from former Lakers president Magic Johnson, pulled off a major coup by winning the Davis sweepstakes over the Knicks and Celtics, among others. Los Angeles gave up plenty in the deal but didn’t have to include another talented big man, Kyle Kuzma.

Davis could sign an extension with the Lakers but still intends to test free agency next summer, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports tweets.

The Lakers will have either $27.8MM or $32.5MM in cap room after the deal to pursue a high-level free agent, depending upon timing and Davis’ willingness to waive his $4MM trade bonus, ESPN salary cap expert Bobby Marks tweets.

The trade cannot be officially finalized until after the new league year begins in July. It may be even be completed as late as July 30 — newly-drafted players can be traded immediately without signing a rookie scale contract, but if they sign that contract, they aren’t eligible to be dealt for 30 days. Waiting those 30 days would be advantageous to the Lakers for cap-related reasons, as Marks notes (via Twitter).

The Lakers still don’t have quite enough cap room to max out a free agent like Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Kyrie Irving or Kemba Walker but they’re close to it, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets. Naturally, one of those free agents might take a little less to form a superstar trio in Los Angeles or the Lakers could make other moves to clear more cap room. Walker will be the Lakers’ top free agent target, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets.

Boston refused to part with its top young player, forward Jayson Tatum, in trade talks with the Pelicans, Stein add in another tweet. That put the Lakers in the driver’s seat for Davis’ services.

With Ball and Hart joining Jrue Holiday, the Pelicans have greatly enhanced their backcourt. They now have the No. 1 and No. 4 picks in Thursday’s draft. It’s a slam dunk they’ll select Duke forward Zion Williamson with the top pick and theyll get another high-level prospect, unless they have another trade in the works. Williamson and Ingram should be a formidable duo at the forward spots and the Pelicans can now concentrate on bringing in another big man to make all the other pieces work.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jimmy Butler To Decline 2019/20 Player Option

Jimmy Butler will decline his player option for the 2019/20 season and hit the free agent market, sources tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. The Sixers have been expecting Butler to take this route.

Philadelphia remains “adamant” about retaining Butler and the franchise appears willing to do whatever is necessary to re-sign the 29-year-old. Butler has previously expressed that he’s confident a max contract awaits him in free agency.

The Lakers have real interest in prying Butler from Philadelphia. Los Angeles is hoping to place other stars around LeBron James this offseason. The starting salary on a potential max contract for Butler is projected to come in around $32.7MM. The Lakers will need to make an additional move to accommodate that figure, as we detailed in the team’s Salary Cap Digest.

Butler will be an unrestricted free agent and his cap hold of roughly $30.7MM will count toward the Sixers’ books unless they decide to renounce him or he signs elsewhere. He played 55 regular season games and 12 playoff contests after Philadelphia acquired him last fall.

Knicks Exercise Team Option On Allonzo Trier

The Knicks have decided to exercise Allonzo Trier‘s option for next season, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. The rookie guard will make $3.5MM for 2019/20.

Trier had a surprisingly successful first season after going undrafted out of Arizona. He signed a two-way deal with New York shortly after the draft, then quickly proved he was ready for the NBA, averaging 10.9 PPG in 64 games while shooting .394 from 3-point range.

The decision will have little effect on the Knicks’ hopes of signing two elite free agents this summer, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. Even with Trier’s salary in place, New York has $69.8MM in cap space, which is enough to add two players at 30% of the max and about $130K short of adding a 35% and a 30% player.

With his option decision out of the way, Trier can now be traded, Marks adds.

Goran Dragic Picks Up Player Option

Goran Dragic has picked up his $19.2MM player option for the 2019/20 season, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports (Twitter link). Rade Filipovich, Dragic’s agent, said the point guard “wants to stay in Miami forever,” Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald tweets.

Dragic had until June 29 to make a decision, though the Heat have been operating under the assumption that he would make this move. Miami now has roughly $102.6MM in guaranteed salary on the books for the 2019/20 season.

Rumblings that the Heat are looking for a point guard upgrade didn’t stop Dragic from picking up his option. Dragic is now eligible to be traded.

The Heat originally traded for the veteran point guard at the 2015 trade deadline, giving up four players and pair of picks in the deal. Norris Cole, Danny Granger, Shawne Williams, and Justin Hamilton were all sent to Phoenix — none of those players are on an NBA roster anymore.

The Suns used the 2018 pick they received from the deal to select Zhaire Smith and packaged him along with Miami’s 2021 selection—the other pick Phoenix received from the Dragic deal—to move up and take Mikal Bridges (the Clippers now own Miami’s 2021 selection via the Tobias Harris trade).

Prior to picking up his option, Dragic did not receive any assurances from Pat Riley that the Heat would not trade him, per Jackson (Twitter link). However, Riley also didn’t indicate that trading him was the plan.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jonas Valanciunas Won’t Pick Up Player Option

Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas won’t opt into the final year of his contract, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reports that Valanciunas intends to turn down his 2019/20 player option. June 13 represented the deadline for the veteran big man to make his decision.

The player option would have paid Valanciunas a salary of $17,617,976 next season if it had been exercised, per Basketball Insiders. Instead, he’ll head to the open market on June 30 in search of a new contract, though his priority will be to negotiate a new deal with Memphis, says Wojnarowski.

According to Woj, new Grizzlies VP of basketball operations Zach Kleiman and Valanciunas’ agent Leon Rose are set to work “aggressively” on finding a new agreement that works for both sides.

Valanciunas, 27, spent the first six and a half years of his NBA career in Toronto, but was sent to the Grizzlies in February in the deadline deal that saw the Raptors acquire Marc Gasol.

After putting up the best numbers of his career on a per-minutes basis through 30 games with the Raptors, Valanciunas continued that trend with the Grizzlies while taking on an expanded role. In 19 games (17 starts) down the stretch with his new team, he averaged a double-double (19.9 PPG, 10.7 RPG) with 2.2 APG and 1.6 BPG in just 27.7 minutes per contest.

Although Valanciunas has always been a strong interior scorer and rebounder, as last year’s numbers showed, he doesn’t have a ton of shooting range and isn’t an elite defender. As such, there’s no guarantee he’ll be able to match his $17.6MM option salary on a new contract.

However, opting out and signing a new deal will allow Valanciunas to gain more long-term security. Even if his new annual salary doesn’t represent a raise, he certainly should be able to surpass $17.6MM in total value on his next contract. The Grizzlies will have his Bird rights, so they won’t face any restrictions in what they can offer him.

To keep tabs on all of this offseason’s player option decisions, be sure to check out our tracker.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.