Oliver Arruda, Draft/Player Personnel Strategist with No Trade Clause

Colin Maher, Salary Cap Strategist with No Trade Clause


With the 2023-24 campaign in the rear-view mirror, the eyes and ears of the basketball world shift towards the hottest drama of the summer – the NBA offseason. However, before the league year flips to 2024-25 on July 1, decisions like team, player, and early termination options have tobe made. In this piece, our contributors Oliver Arruda and Colin Maher will predict and evaluate all pending options. We started by grouping options into the following categories.!

  • The Complicated Options
  • Evaluating Fringe NBA Talent
  • Market Value = Player Option
  • Market Value < Player Option
  • Market Value > Player Option
  • Market Value > Team Option
  • Trade Chip Team Options


The Complicated Options

Evan Fournier – Team Option ($19,000,000 – DET)


In 2021, Fournier signed with the New York Knicks for 4 years/$73M as one of the premier shooters in the free agent class. A tumultuous two seasons on and off the court in New York led to his involvement in a trade deadline move with Detroit to bring in Bojan Bogdanovic. On paper, this appears as a clear opt-out for Detroit. Even with a new opportunity, Evan’s struggles from the 3pt line continued – averaging 27% on 4 attempts per game. That being said, this is not a no-brainer decision for Trajan Langdon and the rest of new management.


With the salary cap set at $141M for the 2024-25 season, so too is the salary floor at $126.9M (90% of cap). As it stands, Detroit sits almost $60 million below the floor if exercising all other team options after signing their first round pick.. Luring free agents to Detroit is hard enough, not including their instability on the court and in the front office – and recent CBA changes puts on even more pressure to reach that floor. Starting next season, teams are required to reach the salary floor by opening night, rather than game 82. If a team fails to do so, not only are they required to pay out the difference to their players, but they do not participate in any revenue sharing for the league year (reduced from 50% as the 2023 CBA continues to be implemented)..


All this to say, unless Detroit knocks free agency out of the park with multiple marquee signings, I expect the front office to bring Evan Fournier back with the intention of at least helping reach that $126.9M salary floor. – Oliver Arruda


Jeff Green – Team Option ($8,000,000 – HOU)


The 2023 offseason brought Jeff Green to Houston on a 2 year/$16M contract. In what many perceived to be an overpay, Green provided more than just frontcourt depth. There was a clear need for the presence of a “good vet” in this young locker room, an invaluable role in today’s NBA, and Green fits the bill. Despite a good year in Houston, Green missed out on a $1.6M likely incentive (by just 2.2 minutes per game!) lowering his 2024-25 cap hit from $9.6M to $8M. 


We can’t truly know how impactful Jeff Green was to Houston’s locker room, but what remains clear are the strides this young core took towards success. With no significant financial limitations (non-tax team), Houston can feel good about exercising Green’s team option. If all else, Green’s $8M salary can be aggregated at the deadline with other veterans like Steven Adams ($12.5M) and Jock Landale ($8M) if there is a need for another cornerstone in Houston. – Oliver Arruda


Paul George – Player Option ($48,787,676 – LAC)


Entering his age-34 season and an extension yet to be agreed upon, it seems likely George will opt out of his contract and seek one last lucrative multi-year deal.


If a team wants to max George out, he can receive $49,350,000 in maximum salary next season. The Clippers can offer up to 8% raises, while any other team can offer up to 5% raises. Note the Clippers already gave Kawhi Leonard the maximum salary of $49,350,000, but have not come to an agreement on an extension with George. Considering those terms could have already been agreed upon in an extension, it doesn’t seem like the Clippers are willing to match Kawhi’s terms with George. Despite ownership’s deep pockets, the luxury tax rates are set to significantly increase in 2025-2026 for repeaters and the higher tax payers, and being on the hook for two maximum contracts for aging players is the likely deterrent. 


If the Clippers and George are set to move on, George will have to find a team with sufficient salary cap space to sign George to an agreeable contract (absent a Sign-and-Trade facilitated with the Clippers).  If George is looking to remain a playoff contender as he continues to search for his first championship, he’ll be looking at teams like the Philadelphia 76ers and Oklahoma City Thunder, who have sufficient cap space and enough talent to both pay George and contend next season.  – Colin Maher


LeBron James – Player Option ($51,415,938 – LAL)


LeBron James needs to make a decision whether he believes the Los Angeles Lakers will have sufficient ammunition to propel the roster back to a top contender in the West before it’s too late. 


If LeBron decides to opt out and sign elsewhere he would have no choice but to sign for slightly less money (his maximum salary in free agency will be $49,987,717). LeBron’s priorities are likely to have more to do with winning-and potentially Bronny James’ landing spot-over squeezing out every dollar he can at this point in his career.


Similar to George, finding a contender with sufficient cap space to sign LeBron or otherwise facilitating a Sign-and-Trade will be LeBron’s goal if he does indeed decide to move on from the Lakers. Of course, with total contract earnings approaching $500 million-notwithstanding sponsorships and business ventures-LeBron may be willing to take a major pay cut to find the right landing spot from a roster-building perspective as he did when he took his talents to South Beach. – Colin Maher


D’Angelo Russell – Player Option ($18,692,307 – LAL)


Fans can debate how productive D’Angelo Russell has been in his second stint with the Los Angeles Lakers, but irrespective of the disagreement he may be more valuable in purple and gold in comparison to anywhere else in the League. 


If Russell were to opt out and become a free agent, the Lakers would retain his full bird rights, allowing the flexibility to sign him to a new deal despite any other moves the Lakers make in the offseason affecting their cap outlook. On the other hand, should Russell sign elsewhere, the Lakers would have a difficult time finding a way to replace his production as a cap team, assuming LeBron exercises his Player Option.  As a result, the leverage Russell may have over the Lakers may not be his comparable contract offers in the open market, but the Lakers’ limited options and need to overpay simply to retain talent on the roster. – Colin Maher 


Luke Kennard – Team Option ($14,763,636 – MEM)


The Memphis Grizzlies have a tough decision to make on Luke Kennard, as exercising his option would take them into the tax and over the First Apron after filling out the rest of their roster.


In a lost season for the Grizzlies due to a plethora of injuries, Kennard only played 39 games, but produced numbers that showed why they acquired him two seasons ago, shooting 45% from three with a 62% effective field goal percentage. Retaining sufficient three-point shooting at a reasonable salary could go a long way in supporting a team thin in the front-court as the roster stands currently.


While the Grizzlies aren’t fond of being a tax team, that’s something they could avoid via future transactions in the offseason and through the regular season, as the determination of tax liability doesn’t take place until the last day of the regular season. The First Apron, however, would implement significant roster-building limitations this offseason, such as requiring dollar-for-dollar matching in a trade (i.e. you can’t acquire more salary than you send out) and losing the Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception, among others.


Despite being a reasonable salary to fulfill a team need, this may not be an easy decision for the Grizzlies depending on how active they look to be this offseason. The Grizzlies might look to decline his option to allow flexibility below the First Apron and avoid the tax. Don’t be surprised, however, if they resign Kennard on a longer term contract at a lower salary. – Colin Maher


OG Anunoby – Player Option ($19,928,571 – NYK)


This seems like an easy opt out for a player with historical +/- numbers after being traded to the New York Knicks. Even taking away the stats, the eyeball test shows how different the Knicks look when OG is on the floor, and OG will get paid accordingly.


The Knicks have full Bird Right over OG, meaning his starting salary can be any amount up to $42,000,000 with a maximum term of five years.  They can also offer a maximum of 8% raises. Any other team in free agency can also offer OG up to the $42,000,000 starting salary, but will be limited to a maximum four-year term and 5% raises. 


I would anticipate OG opting out, but staying with the Knicks on a long-term contract. – Colin Maher


Evaluating Fringe NBA Talent

Each of the following players are on minimum/near minimum contracts with a team option in 2024-25. This bucket is the hardest to predict as each decision has very little to do with money, but more so how organizations view their development. A  handful of these players did well to earn a standard deal during the season, which is encouraging for their future, but these contracts often include team options and non-guarantees in subsequent years to maintain roster count flexibility. Ultimately, it comes down to a player’s development within their building, and how they gel with the organization on a personal level. Since we do not have that intel, we’ll refrain from predictions in this section (how ‘bout that for a cop out!).

  • Garrison Mathews (ATL)
  • Neemias Queta (BOS)
  • JT Thor (CHA)
  • Vlatko Cancar (DEN)
  • Stanley Umude (DET)
  • Chimezie Metu (DET)
  • Kai Jones (LAC)
  • Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (NOP)
  • Jericho Sims (NYK)
  • DaQuan Jeffries (NYK)
  • Lindy Waters III (OKC)
  • Jeff Dowtin (PHI)
  • Dalano Banton (POR)
  • Trendon Watford (BKN)
  • Tristan Vukcevic (WAS)


Market Value = Player Option

Unlike the last group of players, these guys are at least guaranteed a paycheck in the 2024-25 season. Whether or not they maintain an active roster spot for the duration of that paycheck is to be determined. The following players have pending player options ranging from the minimum salary to Tax Mid-Level Exception. Based on their play and team situation, we predict these players will pick up that option.

  • Keita Bates-Diop (Minimum – BKN)
  • Oshae Brissett (Minimum – BOS)
  • Torrey Craig – (Minimum – CHI)
  • Christian Wood (Minimum – LAL)
  • Cam Reddish (Minimum – LAL)
  • Jaxson Hayes – (Minimum – LAL)
  • Josh Richardson – (Minimum – MIA) 
  • Thomas Bryant – (Minimum – MIA)
  • Kevin Love ($4,027,525 – MIA)
  • Eric Gordon (Minimum – PHX)
  • Josh Okogie (Minimum – PHX)
  • Damion Lee – (Minimum – PHX)
  • Drew Eubanks (Minimum – PHX)
  • Reggie Jackson ($5,250,00 – DEN)
  • Yuta Watanabe (Minimum – MEM)
  • Jalen Smith ($5,417,386 – IND)
  • Russell Westbrook ($4,027,525 – LAC)

Notice a theme with 13/17 players listed? Hint: check the second column of the summary table on our home page


Market Value < Player Option

Not only are these guys guaranteed a paycheck, but will receive a paycheck greater than what they’d receive on the current market. For reasons unique to each player listed below, we predict the following players will thank their agent and pick up their player option.

  • Lonzo Ball ($21,395,348 – CHI)
  • PJ Tucker ($11,539,00 – LAC)
  • Richaun Holmes ($12,876,780 – WAS)
  • Gary Payton II ($9,130,00 – GSW)
  • Davis Bertans ETO ($16,000,000 – CHA)


Market Value > Player Option

They may not be the flashiest, but all three players are proven experts in their role, even in critical playoff moments –  and deserve to be paid as such. To better align with their current market value, we predict the following players will OPT OUT of their current contract.

  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ($15,440,185 – DEN)
  • Caleb Martin ($7,126,900 – MIA)
  • OG Anunoby ($19,928,571 – NYK) – See write-up above


Market Value > Team Option

This group of five excellent role players should be considered among the best value contracts in the NBA. Picking up these team options will be the easiest decision their respective front offices will make all summer. The hard part will be negotiating with these players once their bargain contracts expire. 

  • Sam Hauser ($2,092,344 – BOS)
  • Jose Alvarado ($1,988,598 – NOP)
  • Moritz Wagner ($8,000,000 – ORL)
  • Isaiah Joe ($2,164,993 – OKC)
  • Aaron Wiggins ($1,988,598 – OKC)


Trade Chip Team Options

Debates can be had as to which holds greater value – their market value or current contract. Regardless, these quality role players, both of which we do not foresee being on the best version of their respective teams, hold value as tradeable salaries for two franchises hoping to move into contention sooner than later. 

  • Joe Ingles ($11,000,000 – ORL)
  • Bruce Brown Jr. ($23,000,000 – TOR)


**Editor’s notes: Reporting has indicated the following options have been decided since the writing of this article: Gary Payton II has picked up his $9.1M player option. Yuta Watanabe has declined his $2.6M player option and plans to sign in Japan. Drew Eubanks and Eric Gordon have declined their minimum player options with PHX.