During NBA free agency, a pair of superstars declined player options to become unrestricted free agents in the final years of their contracts.
However, teams with money to spend should not hope to sign a bigger, more splash contract after James Harden or Bradley Beale opens a free agency. Both look likely to return to their old teams.
Wednesday is the deadline for Harden, Beale and others to make decisions on their player options before the free agency. Players who reject their options can negotiate with teams when the free agency suspension begins at 6pm ET on Thursday.
Here’s a quick look at the key decisions on player options and what they mean for the NBA free agency landscape:
James Harden, Sixers: Quit
Harden was expected to exercise his $47.3 million player option, but declined to work with the Sixers on a new contract that would have given the team more financial flexibility to make roster improvements this offseason. Philadelphia has key needs to fill, and any extra room to handle salary would be a boon for GM Daryl Morey.
Bradley Beale, Wizards: Disabled
Beal declined his $36.4 million player option in a move widely expected to clear the three-time All-Star to re-sign with the Wizards on a five-year max deal. Beal has spent his entire 10-year career in Washington and has long insisted he stays. But could he finally change his mind and look to play elsewhere?
Patty Mills, Nets: Suspended
After a season in Brooklyn the veteran turned down his $ 6.2 million option, but he is likely to return. Mills figures to attract plenty of interest from competitors as an experienced point guard who can provide a consistent hand on any backcourt. By rejecting the option, Mills can claim the security of a multi-year contract.
PJ Tucker, Heat: Suspended
In another widely anticipated move, Tucker turned down his $ 7.3 million player option for a raise and a long contract. Tucker has been a key component of multi-competitive teams in recent years, and even at the age of 37, he finds many suitors among competitors looking to add defensive versatility and rigor to their wing rotation.
Bobby Portis, Bucks: Suspended
Portis declined his $4.6 million player option in another move to secure a more lucrative long-term deal. A 6-10 shooter for his size, Portis could draw some notable interest on the open market, but there’s a good chance he’ll return to Milwaukee, where he’s become a fan favorite over the past two years.
Kyrie Irving, Nets: Selected
Irving announced earlier this week that he is exercising his $36.9 million player option to return to the Nets. He won’t be a free agent when the market opens Thursday, leaving the situation largely unresolved, and Brooklyn could still try to move Irving.
Russell Westbrook, Lakers: Selected
Not surprisingly, Westbrook chose his $ 47.1 million option. He is not paid anywhere in the open market. However, with the return of Westbrook in such large numbers, the Lakers will not have much flexibility to handle this off-season.
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