NBA Rumors: Player Options in Contracts 'A Real Polarizing Topic' Among Execs

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistNovember 28, 2020

FILE - In this Oct. 9, 2020, file photo, Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis celebrates during the second half in Game 5 of basketball's NBA Finals against the Miami Heat in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Davis is the biggest name on the free agency board; he turned down his option for this season with the Lakers but isn’t expected to go anyplace else. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

Player options in NBA contracts have reportedly become a "real polarizing topic" among front-office executives and agents during the 2020 offseason.

ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported Thursday on the Hoop Collective podcast (via Real GM) there's a "different series of opinions" about options because they allow players and agents to apply pressure on team management earlier in long-term deals.

"I think the agents are winning on this one, and it goes to player empowerment," Windhorst said.

Windhorst explained the Los Angeles Lakers' Anthony Davis is a perfect example of the teams' concern.

The superstar forward signed a five-year, $127.2 million contract with the New Orleans Pelicans in 2015, but in reality it was only a four-year deal because of the player option at the end, and the trade rumors started to pop up early in the third season of the pact.

Davis was traded to the Lakers in June 2019, and his placement alongside LeBron James helped the team capture its 17th NBA championship in October.

He utilized the player option in his contract to become an unrestricted free agent after winning the title. He's "on course" to stick with the Lakers once the sides formalize the "length and structure" of the max deal he's expected to sign, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

In the big picture, Windhorst noted it'll be key to watch how front offices handle options moving forward.

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"This has been an interesting thing to watch what has happened in this particular signing cycle," he said on the Hoop Collective. "The guys who got options and the guys who didn't."

Teams may push for different contract structures that limit the number of player options, but it's something agents will likely aim to keep in as many deals as possible to improve their clients' bargaining power.

With the initial rush of free-agent signings now in the books, the focus begins to shift toward the start of the 2020-21 NBA season Dec. 22.