Nuggets’ Darrell Arthur Exercises Player Option

Nuggets power forward Darrell Arthur has opted into his contract for the 2018/19 season, reports Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter). Arthur will earn a salary of $7,464,912 next year after exercising his player option.

Arthur, 30, enjoyed perhaps the best year of his career in 2015/16, his first season in Denver, when he averaged 7.5 PPG and 4.2 RPG with a .452/.385/.755 shooting line in a rotation role for the team. However, he has seen his playing time cut back significantly over the last two years.

In 2017/18, Arthur appeared in just 19 games for Denver, averaging 2.8 PPG and 0.8 RPG in 7.4 minutes per contest. With Paul Millsap, Trey Lyles, Kenneth Faried, Juan Hernangomez, and Wilson Chandler all seeing time at the four while Nikola Jokic and Mason Plumlee handled the five, there simply wasn’t a role for Arthur.

Since Arthur was unlikely to command more than the minimum salary on the open market, his decision to pick up his player option comes as no surprise. It doesn’t assure of him spending the 2018/19 season in Denver though.

With the Nuggets potentially looking to lock up Jokic and Will Barton to lucrative new deals this summer, the team will probably need to cut costs elsewhere, making Arthur a candidate to be traded or released. The Nuggets could reduce Arthur’s 2018/19 cap charge by nearly $5MM by waiving and stretching him. The club is also said to be exploring trades involving Faried.

Arthur’s player-option decision continues an offseason trend that reflects the lack of league-wide cap room available this summer. After only eight total veterans picked up their player options in 2016 and 2017, Arthur becomes the 10th veteran to do so in 2018, and he won’t be the last. The full list of player option decisions can be found right here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rex Kalamian To Join Clippers’ Coaching Staff

The coaching shakeup in Toronto continues as assistant Rex Kalamian has agreed to take a job with the Clippers, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Kalamian will join Doc Rivers‘ staff after spending three years working under former head coach Dwane Casey with the Raptors.

Kalamian started his NBA career as a scout with the Clippers in 1992 and was promoted to assistant coach three years later. He also spent time with the Sixers, Nuggets, Timberwolves, Kings and Thunder before coming to Toronto in 2015.

Kalamian reportedly interviewed for the Raptors’ head coaching job when Casey was fired last month, but wasn’t among the finalists for the position. The Clippers had an opening after assistant Pat Sullivan left to join David Fizdale’s staff with the Knicks.

Sixers Exercise T.J. McConnell’s Team Option

JUNE 13: The Sixers have officially exercised McConnell’s team option, the club announced today in a press release. The announcement also confirmed that Richaun Holmes‘ option has been picked up, as we relayed earlier today.

MAY 11: The Sixers intend to pick up their 2018/19 team option on T.J. McConnell, team president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo told reporters today (Twitter link via Derek Bodner of The Athletic). That option is worth $1,600,520.

McConnell, 26, is coming off a third straight year as a rotation player for the Sixers. In 76 regular season games this season, he averaged 6.3 PPG, 4.0 APG, and 3.0 RPG with a shooting line of .499/.435/.795.

With Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz seemingly ready to handle point guard duties coming into the season, McConnell’s role was expected to be reduced. However, health problems limited Fultz to just 14 regular season games, opening the door for the veteran to be Simmons’ primary backup at the point. McConnell was particularly effective in the postseason, making 25 of 36 shots (.694 FG%) in 10 games against the Heat and Celtics.

While McConnell’s $1.6MM option is obviously a steal for the 76ers, there was a chance the club would decide to turn it down. Like Nikola Jokic in Denver, McConnell would have been a restricted free agent this summer if his option had been declined, but will now be on track for unrestricted free agency in 2019.

Unlike Jokic, McConnell isn’t a franchise-type player, so Philadelphia will opt for the bargain price in 2018/19 and then take its chances with the point guard in unrestricted free agency in 2019, rather than ensuring they can keep him long-term by giving him a raise this offseason.

As ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes (via Twitter), McConnell’s salary for 2018/19 remains non-guaranteed even after his option is exercised. However, that shouldn’t matter much, since Philadelphia won’t waive him.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Sixers Exercise Team Option On Richaun Holmes

The Sixers have picked up their 2018/19 team option on big man Richaun Holmes, reports Michael Scotto of The Athletic (Twitter link). The option will pay Holmes a salary of $1,600,520 next season.

The move comes as no surprise for a couple reasons. For one, Holmes’ play has certainly justified a minimum-salary investment. In a part-time role in Philadelphia’s frontcourt, Holmes averaged 6.5 PPG, 4.4 RPG, and 1.3 APG in 48 games (15.5 MPG) last season, and he was even more productive the year before, with 9.8 PPG and 5.5 RPG in 57 contests (20.9 MPG).

Additionally, exercising Holmes’ option for next season reportedly won’t actually lock in his $1.6MM salary. According to contract information from Basketball Insiders, Holmes’ salary remains non-guaranteed until January 10, even with his option picked up. T.J. McConnell‘s team option is said to have the same structure.

While exercising Holmes’ option may not provide any guarantees for the coming season, I’d be very surprised if he’s cut before his January guarantee date. Assuming he plays out the full 2018/19 season on his current deal, the 24-year-old will be an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Wizards’ Jodie Meeks Exercises Player Option

Wizards shooting guard Jodie Meeks has opted in for the 2018/19 season, exercising the second-year player option on his contract, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

[RELATED: NBA Player Option Decisions for 2018/19]

Meeks’ option is worth $3,454,500, though he won’t earn that full amount since he still has to serve the remaining 19 games on his 25-game suspension. The veteran sharpshooter received the 25-game ban at the end of the regular season for violating the NBA’s anti-drug policy. As a result, he sat out the Wizards’ six-game playoff series against Toronto.

The league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement calls for a player who receives a suspension of 20 or more games to forfeit 1/110th of his salary per game. As such, Meeks’ 2018/19 salary will be reduced by nearly $600K.

[RELATED: Five Key Offseason Questions: Washington Wizards]

Meeks, 30, signed a two-year contract with the Wizards last summer, as the team hoped he could provide some outside shooting off the bench following Bojan Bogdanovic‘s departure. While Meeks was a regular rotation piece throughout the season, averaging 14.5 MPG in 77 contests, he struggled a little with his three-point shot. His 0.9 threes per game and .343 3PT% were the lowest marks he had posted since his rookie season.

Meeks is the second Wizards to pick up a player option this offseason, with Jason Smith also exercising his $5.45MM option. Combined with Washington’s guaranteed contracts, those options take the club’s total team salary above $124MM for next season. A taxpaying team in 2017/18, the Wizards will likely have to trim some salary to avoid being in the tax again in 2018/19.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Iman Shumpert Opts In With Kings For Next Season

Kings guard Iman Shumpert has opted in for the final year of his contract, Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports tweets.

Shumpert will make just over $11MM next season. He had until June 14 to make a decision on his player option.

Shumpert’s decision to take the guaranteed money comes as no surprise after his injury-plagued 2017/18 season. He only appeared in 14 games, all with the Cavaliers, before he was dealt at the trade deadline to Sacramento. He was part of a multi-player, three-team deal that also involved the Jazz.

Shumpert was sidelined by knee and foot injuries and the Kings weren’t in any rush to have him play this past season, as they were evaluating younger players during the second half of the campaign.

Shumpert appeared in 76 regular-season games with Cleveland, including 31 starts, in 2016/17. He averaged 7.5 PPG, 2.9 RPG and 1.4 APG that season. He also appeared in 58 playoff games with the Cavaliers over a three-year span. Shumpert turns 28 later this month.

The decision won’t have a major effect on the Kings’ offseason plans as they remain well under the cap.

Pistons Part Ways With GM Jeff Bower

The Pistons have decided to cut ties with GM Jeff Bower, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets.

Bower was hired to be Stan Van Gundy’s right-hand man when he took charge four summers ago. Owner Tom Gores fired Van Gundy last month and is currently conducting a search for a coach and front-office executive.

Ed Stefanski was hired last week as a senior advisor in charge of overhauling the team’s basketball operations. Van Gundy served as both head coach and president of basketball operations but Gores now wants separation between the two jobs.

Bower had continued his duties after Van Gundy’s departure but his contract was expiring at the end of June and Gores had to make a decision whether to retain him or move on.

Searches to fill the coaching and front office vacancies are ongoing.

On the coaching front, the team has lined up or already interviewed TNT analyst Kenny Smith, Heat assistant Juwan Howard, Spurs assistant Ime Udoka, Michigan coach John Beilein and former Raptors head coach Dwane Casey.

Nets assistant Trajan Langdon , TNT analyst Brent Barry, Hawks executive Malik Rose, Grizzlies assistant Tayshaun Prince and ESPN analyst Chauncey Billups are among the candidates for the front-office job.

Ron Baker Exercises 2018/19 Player Option

Knicks guard Ron Baker has exercised his player option for the 2018/19 season and will remain under contract with the team for one more season, reports Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). The option will pay Baker a salary of $4,544,400.

Baker, 25, joined the Knicks as an undrafted free agent out of Wichita State at the start of the 2016/17 season. After impressing the team in his rookie season, the 6’4″ guard inked a two-year deal last summer, with New York utilizing its full room exception to lock him up.

In the first year of his new contract, Baker was limited to 29 games, due in part to a season-ending shoulder injury. He averaged 2.4 PPG and 1.6 APG with a .339/.333/.769 shooting line in 13.3 minutes per contest. Those modest numbers made Baker’s 2018/19 option a lock to be exercised.

Baker’s decision continues a trend of an increasing number of NBA veterans picking up player options rather than turning them down. During the 2016 and 2017 offseasons, only eight of 53 player options were exercised. However, Baker is already the seventh player to opt into a contract this spring, joining Jeremy Lin (Nets), Cory Joseph (Pacers), Wesley Johnson (Clippers), Wesley Matthews (Mavericks), Kosta Koufos (Kings), and Jason Smith (Wizards).

Bucks To Hire Mike Budenholzer

7:08pm: Darvin Ham, Budenholzer’s top assistant in Atlanta, will accompany him to Milwaukee and may be joined by the rest of the staff, according to David Aldridge of TNT (Twitter link).

6:47pm: Budenholzer will sign a four-year contract, Wojnarowski tweets.

6:17pm: Mike Budenholzer has agreed to become the Bucks’ next coach, writes Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Clues began to emerge over the past two days that Budenholzer was the top choice for the job. He met with team management and ownership yesterday, then had breakfast this morning with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton.

Budenholzer spent the past five seasons as the head coach of the Hawks before parting ways with the franchise last month. Atlanta launched a rebuilding project this year after four straight playoff appearances and Budenholzer reportedly didn’t want to go through that process. He was 213-197 with the Hawks, including a 24-58 record this season.

He succeeds interim coach Joe Prunty, who took over the team when Jason Kidd was fired in January. Prunty, who compiled a 21-16 mark, was among the coaches who interviewed for the opening, along with Ettore MessinaSteve CliffordMonty WilliamsDavid BlattBecky Hammon and Jay Larranaga. Messina was also considered a finalist and met with Bucks ownership on Tuesday as well.

Budenholzer was among the most popular candidates on the market, getting permission from the Hawks to interview with the Suns and Knicks while he was still their coach. He also had an interview Monday with the Raptors, according to Wojnarowski, but Toronto didn’t make an offer.

The Bucks are the sixth team to fill a vacancy in what has been an active offseason for coaching changes. The Pistons, Raptors, and Magic are still in the market for head coaches. Keep up to date with all the developments with our 2018 NBA Head Coaching Search Tracker.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Wizards’ Jason Smith Opts In For Next Season

Wizards center/power forward Jason Smith has exercised his $5.45MM option for next season, relays Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington.

The 32-year-old had a player option as part of a three-year, $16MM contract he signed as a free agent in 2016. He appeared in just 33 games this season, averaging 3.4 points and 1.6 rebounds in 8.6 minutes per night.

Smith’s decision pushes the Wizards above the $119MM mark in guaranteed salary for next season, dangerously close to the projected $123MM luxury tax. Washington is still waiting on a decision from Jodie Meeks, who can opt out of a $3,454,500 salary.