Wizards’ Dwight Howard Opts In For 2019/20

In an unsurprising move, Dwight Howard has picked up his 2019/20 player option, opting in for next season, reports ESPN’s Zach Lowe (via Twitter). The decision ensures that the Wizards center locks in his $5,603,850 salary for ’19/20.

Howard, 33, signed a two-year deal with the Wizards last summer after spending his previous three seasons with three different teams in Houston, Atlanta, and Charlotte. Having used the full taxpayer mid-level exception to sign him, Washington viewed Howard as its major offseason addition, but the big man’s stint in D.C. hasn’t gone as planned.

Sidelined by spinal surgery for most of the 2018/19 season, Howard also injured his hamstring during his rehab and was ultimately limited to just nine games. He was reasonably effective when he saw the court, averaging 12.8 PPG and 9.2 RPG in 25.6 minutes per contest as the Wizards’ starting center, but the question marks surrounding his health ensured that he wouldn’t land a contract on the open market this offseason worth more than his $5.6MM option.

With Howard back in the fold, the Wizards are now on the hook for approximately $89.5MM in guaranteed salaries for 2019/20, per Basketball Insiders. That doesn’t include potential contracts for free agents like Tomas Satoransky, Bobby Portis, Trevor Ariza, Thomas Bryant, or Jeff Green. It also doesn’t account for Jabari Parker‘s $20MM team option, though that’s a lock to be declined.

Portis and Bryant are both eligible for restricted free agency this summer, so it will be interesting to see how the Wizards handle their situations, given the team’s limited financial flexibility and the fact that veteran centers Howard and Ian Mahinmi are entering contract years.

Howard is the sixth player so far to exercise a 2019/20 player option or confirm that he plans to do so. The full list can be found right here.

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Hornets’ Biyombo Picks Up 2019/20 Player Option

Hornets center Bismack Biyombo has exercised his 2019/20 player option, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter). By opting in, Biyombo will assure himself of a $17MM salary for next season.

Biymobo, who signed a four-year, $68MM contract with the Magic in the summer of 2016, was traded to the Hornets in a three-team deal during the 2018 offseason. He subsequently appeared in 54 games (32 starts) for Charlotte, averaging 4.4 PPG, 4.6 RPG, and 0.8 BPG in 14.5 minutes per contest.

Biyombo’s decision comes as no surprise, given his limited role over the last few seasons and the fact that he’s unlikely to secure another major payday in free agency. With Marvin Williams planning to exercise a $15MM+ player option of his own, the Hornets can count on an extra $32MM+ in guaranteed money hitting their cap for 2019/20.

[RELATED: NBA Player Option Decisions For 2019/20]

With those two options locked in, the Hornets’ team salary for ’19/20 is up to approximately $81MM, per Basketball Insiders. That figure doesn’t include Michael Kidd-Gilchrist‘s $13MM option, which is also a decent bet to be picked up, or Tony Parker‘s $5.25MM non-guaranteed salary. And, most notably, it doesn’t include a salary for Kemba Walker, who will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

In other words, the Hornets already project to be an over-the-cap team even before determining whether they can retain their All-Star guard, so it will be difficult for the club to add roster reinforcements this summer.

As for Biyombo, he’s now on track to reach unrestricted free agency in July of 2020, assuming he’s not bought out or released outright before then.

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Hawks’ Kent Bazemore Opts In For 2019/20

8:00pm: Bazemore has officially picked up his option, per RealGM’s transactions log.

1:01pm: Hawks swingman and podcast co-host Kent Bazemore intends to exercise his player option for the 2019/20 season, agent Austin Walton tells ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Opting in will ensure that Bazemore’s $19,269,662 salary for next season becomes guaranteed.

The 2019/20 season represents the final year of the four-year, $70MM contract Bazemore signed with Atlanta back in July of 2016. While he has been a solid contributor for the Hawks since then, he’s unlikely to ever see that sort of payday again as he prepares to enter his age-30 season.

In 2018/19, Bazemore appeared in 67 games (35 starts) for the Hawks, recording 11.6 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 2.3 APG, and 1.3 SPG with a .402/.320/.726 shooting line and solid perimeter defense. It was something of a down year for the former Old Dominion standout, who had been a career 36.0% shooter on three-point attempts entering the season.

Bazemore will look to bounce back next season – in advance of 2020 unrestricted free agency – as a role player on a young Hawks team that features up-and-comers like Trae Young, Kevin Huerter, and John Collins. Atlanta is in position to add two more young players to its core this June, as the team ranks fifth in the draft lottery order and also holds Dallas’ top-five protected first-round pick — the Mavs are tied for seventh in the lottery order entering today’s tiebreaker.

The Hawks will still have plenty of cap flexibility this summer, even after taking into account Bazemore’s $19MM+ salary. Outside of Bazemore and Miles Plumlee ($12.5MM), no one on Atlanta’s roster is on the books for more than $6.27MM in 2019/20, per Basketball Insiders.

Despite the fact that the 2018/19 season ended less than 48 hours ago, there have already been four veteran players who have exercised player options for next year or confirmed that they’ll do so. Bazemore joins Marvin Williams (Hornets), C.J. Miles (Grizzlies), and Jeff Teague (Timberwolves) in that group.

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Jeff Teague Picks Up 2019/20 Player Option

Timberwolves point guard Jeff Teague has elected to pick up his $19MM player option for the 2019/20 season, reports Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic (Twitter link). The decision, which doesn’t come as a surprise, puts Teague on track to reach unrestricted free agency in 2020.

Teague, who will turn 31 in June, battled injuries during the 2018/19 season and was able to play in just 42 games for Minnesota. In those games, he averaged 12.1 PPG, 8.2 APG, and 2.5 RPG in 30.1 minutes per contest. The Timberwolves, who finished the season well below .500, were 23-19 when the veteran guard played.

There’s optimism that Teague can get his foot healthy this summer and enjoy a more effective season in 2019/20, tweets Krawczynski.

For now, Teague is the only point guard under contract with Minnesota for next year. Derrick Rose and Jerryd Bayless will be unrestricted free agents this summer, while Tyus Jones will be eligible for restricted free agency. Even though Teague’s $19MM cap hit isn’t particularly team-friendly, Minnesota can at least enter the offseason knowing that one reliable point guard remains under club control.

With maximum-salary contracts for Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns on Minnesota’s books, the team already has $109MM+ in guaranteed money on its cap for 2019/20. As such, the Wolves figure to function as an over-the-cap club, limiting their ability to make roster upgrades.

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Grizzlies’ C.J. Miles Opts In For 2019/20

Grizzlies sharpshooter C.J. Miles has exercised the player option on his contract for the 2019/20 season, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). Miles had informed Peter Edmiston of The Athletic (Twitter link) on Thursday that he intended to opt in.

The decision locks in Miles’ $8,730,158 salary for next season, putting him on track to reach unrestricted free agency in 2020.

Miles’ decision doesn’t come as a surprise, since the 32-year-old struggled mightily in 2018/19, turning in his worst season in a decade. He’s also not healthy at the moment, having been ruled out for the season last month due to a stress reaction in his left foot.

The 14-year veteran, who started the season with the Raptors, was sent to the Grizzlies as part of the package for Marc Gasol in February. In total, Miles appeared in 53 games (16.2 MPG) for Memphis and Toronto, averaging just 6.4 PPG on .360/.330/.828 shooting. In his previous six seasons entering this year, he had averaged 11.2 PPG and shot 37.5% on three-pointers.

Depending on which direction the Grizzlies go this summer, it’s possible the club will look to move on from Miles via trade or buyout. If he returns to Memphis, the veteran swingman will look to compete for minutes on the wing.

With Miles’ $8.7MM+ salary locked in, the Grizzlies now have approximately $86.6MM in guaranteed money on their books for next season, per Basketball Insiders. Given that Jonas Valanciunas looks like a decent bet to pick up his $17.62MM player option as well, Memphis projects to be an over-the-cap team this offseason, barring cost-cutting moves.

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Marvin Williams Plans To Exercise Player Option

One of three Hornets veterans with player options for 2019/20, forward Marvin Williams said today that he doesn’t intend to opt out of his deal this summer, according to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer (Twitter link).

“I’ll be back,” Williams said.

Williams, the second overall pick in the 2005 draft, is coming off another solid season in which he averaged 10.1 PPG, 5.4 RPG, and 1.2 APG with a .422/.366/.767 shooting line for Charlotte.

A forward like Williams, who can guard multiple positions and knock down three-pointers (.378 3PT% since joining the Hornets in 2014), would probably do reasonably well on the open market.

However, the former UNC standout is entering his age-33 season and is already on a favorable contract — his 2019/20 option will pay him just over $15MM. As such, exercising that option makes sense.

It wouldn’t be surprise if all three Hornets with player options ultimately decide to opt in, putting off free agency for another year. Besides Williams, Bismack Biyombo ($17MM) and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist ($13MM) will have decisions to make before the new league year begins.

If all three players pick up their options, it would add about $45MM to Charlotte’s cap for 2019/20, reducing the club’s flexibility to make upgrades, whether or not Kemba Walker decides to return.

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Heat Sign Kendrick Nunn

The Heat have filled the final open spot on their 15-man roster by signing guard Kendrick Nunn, the team announced today (via Twitter). No corresponding roster move was necessary to make room for Nunn, whose deal with Miami was first reported by Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter).

An undrafted rookie out of Oakland University, Nunn signed a camp deal with the Warriors last summer and spent the preseason with Golden State before reporting to the team’s G League affiliate, the Santa Cruz Warriors.

In 49 G League games this season, he averaged 19.3 PPG on .473/.335/.856 shooting off the bench, to go along with 3.8 RPG, 2.8 APG, and 1.4 SPG. Those sort of scoring numbers are nothing new for Nunn, who racked up 25.9 PPG during his last college season in 2017/18.

As Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel confirms (via Twitter), Nunn’s contract resembles the multiyear pacts signed by Yante Maten and Duncan Robinson within the last few days. Those deals, which run through 2020/21, are non-guaranteed beyond this season, but include offseason trigger dates.

Nets Add Theo Pinson To 15-Man Roster

1:24pm: The Nets confirmed in a press release that they’ve exercised the standard NBA contract conversion option on Pinson, meaning he’ll just get a rest-of-season deal.

12:54pm: The Nets have converted Theo Pinson‘s two-way contract to a standard NBA contract, reports Michael Scotto of The Athletic (via Twitter). Brooklyn had an open spot on its 15-man roster, so no corresponding move is required to make room for the wing.

An undrafted free agent out of UNC, Pinson joined the Nets on a two-way deal in 2018 and has appeared in 17 games for the NBA club as a rookie. While his playing time for Brooklyn has been limited, the 23-year-old has thrived for the Long Island Nets, recording 20.7 PPG, 6.1 APG, and 5.9 RPG in 34 G League games this season. He was named to the All-NBAGL Second Team last week.

With his promotion to the 15-man roster, Pinson is now eligible to participate in the playoffs with the Nets. Before the NBA postseason begins, he’ll likely play for Long Island on Friday in the final game of the G League Finals. The best-of-three series between the Long Island and the Rio Grande Valley Vipers is currently tied at one game apiece.

While Scotto classifies the move as a contract conversion, it’s not clear if that’s official, or if the Nets were able to negotiate a new deal with Pinson. A straight conversion of his two-way contract would mean he’d be eligible for restricted free agency this summer. A multiyear deal would likely include a non-guaranteed salary for 2019/20, giving Brooklyn more flexibility.

Heat Sign Duncan Robinson To Standard Contract

5:44pm: Robinson’s contract is a three-year, minimum-salary deal like Maten’s that runs through 2020/21, a source confirms to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald (Twitter link). The Heat used part of their mid-level exception to complete the deal, which features guarantee trigger dates in the offseason.

5:29pm: Two days after promoting Yante Maten to their 15-man roster, the Heat have done the same with their other two-way player, announcing today (via Twitter) that they’ve signed forward Duncan Robinson to a standard contract.

Robinson, who will turn 25 later this month, signed a two-way deal with the Heat in 2018 after going undrafted out of Michigan. He has seen limited minutes in 13 games for Miami, having spent most of his rookie year with the Sioux Falls Skyforce, the Heat’s G League affiliate.

In 33 games for the Skyforce, Robinson averaged 21.4 PPG, 4.3 RPG, and 3.0 APG to go along with a very impressive .514/.483/.803 shooting line. He was named to the All-NBAGL Third Team.

While terms of Robinson’s new contract have yet to be reported, the Heat presumably attempted to lock him up to a deal similar to Maten’s — that contract will run through the 2020/21 campaign, though it isn’t guaranteed beyond this season.

The Heat, who ducked under the tax line today when Rodney McGruder was claimed off waivers by the Clippers, now have 14 players under contract, so they could add one more to their 15-man squad before Wednesday’s regular-season finale in Brooklyn if they so choose.

Clippers Claim Rodney McGruder Off Waivers

The Clippers have used an open roster spot and a traded player exception to claim shooting guard Rodney McGruder off waivers from the Heat, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Because he was released after March 1, McGruder won’t be eligible to participate in the postseason for Los Angeles. However, the Clippers will assume control of his Early Bird rights and will have the ability to make him a restricted free agent this summer by issuing him a qualifying offer. That QO would be worth just over $3MM, since McGruder met the starter criteria this season.

McGruder, 27, had a solid season in Miami, averaging 7.6 PPG, 3.7 RPG, and 1.7 APG with a .403/.351/.722 as a regular part of the team’s rotation over 66 games (23.5 MPG). However, with the Heat’s playoff chances dwindling, they decided to prioritize getting out of the tax.

Since McGruder was claimed off waivers, Miami won’t be on the hook for his $1,544,951 cap hit, allowing the club to duck below the tax line. As ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets, the move will save the Heat approximately $5.2MM, since they’ll no longer have a $2.1MM tax bill and will instead be in line for a $3.1MM share of other teams’ tax payments. It should also help the organization avoid repeater-tax penalties down the road.

Although McGruder is earning the minimum salary this season, his contract was a three-year pact, meaning it wasn’t eligible to be claimed using the minimum salary exception, which only accommodates one- or two-year deals. As such, the Clippers had to use a traded player exception to place their claim. The team had two exceptions that could have worked, but likely used the $2,760,095 TPE from last August’s Sam Dekker deal, since it’s worth less than – and will expire before – the $9.8MM TPE created in February’s Tobias Harris blockbuster.

The Clippers are in position to make McGruder part of their future, but could just as easily let him go during the offseason if retaining him would compromise their ability to land a top free agent target. Still, his modest cap hold – which would be the amount of his qualifying offer if the Clips extend one – should give the club some flexibility.

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