Dan Feldman

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Josh Huestis, Brice Johnson, Rashad Vaughn also have team options declined

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Players selected in the first round of the NBA draft who sign within three years are given a contract set by the Collective Bargaining Agreement – two guaranteed seasons followed by two team options. Because the team owners and veteran players who negotiate the CBA are incentivized to keep more money for themselves, rookie-scale contracts are relatively low-paying considering the talent and upside of the players on these deals. Therefore, options on rookie-scale contracts are usually exercised with little fanfare.

Yesterday, was the deadline for 2018-19 options and there were a couple notable exceptions – Jahlil Okafor (76ers, No. 3 pick in 2015, would have earned $6,313,832 in 2018-19) and Mario Hezonja (Magic, No. 5 in 2015, $5,167,231). Wade Baldwin (Grizzlies, No. 18 in 2016, $1,955,160) even had his option declined before the season, in conjunction with being waived. Kevon Looney (Warriors, No. 30 in 2015, $2,227,081) and Chris McCullough (Wizards, No. 29 in 2015, $2,243,326) also had their options declined.

A few other declined options came out later in the night:

Huestis was drafted in 2014 but didn’t sign with the Thunder until 2015 – part of an infamous pre-draft agreement where Huestis agreed to spend his first professional season on a D-League salary with Oklahoma City’s affiliate in exchange for being drafted then signed to a rookie-scale contract the following year. The idea on the Thunder’s part appeared to be that they’d be better off with a lesser prospect in their system for five years than someone on a typical four-year rookie-scale contract. Now, they’re set to cut Huestis loose after just four, anyway.

Johnson goes on the ledger of Doc Rivers draft picks who didn’t work out. After starting his rookie year injured, Johnson hasn’t gained any traction.

The Bucks were reportedly offering a second-round pick just to get another team to take Rashad Vaughn this year. So, it’s no wonder they didn’t guarantee his salary for next season. Don’t draft players for bad reasons.

Report: Wizards declining fourth-year option on Chris McCullough

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Last February, wanting the Wizards’ first-round pick, the Nets agreed to trade Bojan Bogdanovic, take Andrew Nicholson’s toxic contract and accept take Marcus Thornton so Washington could stay under the roster limit.

There was just one apparent catch: The Wizards had to take Chris McCullough.

McCullough, the No. 29 pick in the 2015 draft, didn’t play much in Brooklyn – on a bad team woefully short on young talent. He has played even less in Washington.

Now, his contract will run out after this season.

Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders:

McCullough would have earned $2,243,326 next season if his option had been exercised.

He’s just 22, and he was athletic at least before hurting his ACL his final year at Syracuse. It’s not too late for McCullough, but he hasn’t displayed nearly enough feel for the game to warrant a guaranteed NBA salary – especially above the minimum.

After reportedly telling Jarell Martin they’d cut him, Grizzlies exercise Jarell Martin’s fourth-year option

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The Grizzlies reportedly told Jarell Martin before training camp that they planned to cut him to clear a regular-season roster spot, but if he wanted to attend camp anyway, he could.

He did, and not only did he earn his way onto the regular-season roster (Memphis waiving 2016 first-rounder Wade Baldwin and Rade Zagorac, who signed this year with multiple guaranteed seasons, instead)… not only is he starting for the first-place team in the Western Conference while JaMychal Green is injured… Martin is having his $2,416,222 salary for next season guaranteed.

Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders:

The No. 25 pick in 2015, Martin alternated between showing promise and getting hurt as a rookie. Last year, he massively underperformed. It seemed as if Memphis had moved on.

But the resolve he has shown to get to this point shows why he’s such a good fit on this still-grinding team.

Report: Magic talking Mario Hezonja trade before option deadline

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Magic wing Mario Hezonja, the No. 5 pick in the 2015 NBA draft, has been bad in two-plus NBA seasons.

He’s also 22, athletic and talented. But he’s up and down in his development, and it’s too early to say whether strides this season are real.

Orlando must decide on Hezonja’s $5,167,231 option for next season by the end of the day – unless another team trades for him first. That’s why the Magic have talked trade with the Kings, who have Malachi Richardson. Obviously, any team trading for Hezonja would prefer to decide for itself on his option.

Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders:

That trade seems about fair. Richardson, the No. 22 pick last year, hasn’t done much in the NBA, either. At least Sacramento decided to exercise his $1,569,360 option for next season, according to Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune.

Absent a trade with the Kings, Orlando can keep looking elsewhere for a trade. Hezonja had plenty of fans before the draft and still might have a few around the league willing to take a flier.

But if no trade partner emerges, the Magic face a tough question: Would they rather have another year trying to make Hezonja a viable NBA player, or could that $5,167,231 be better-spent elsewhere?

LeBron James goes as killer clown to his annual Halloween party (photos)

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Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said some Cleveland players are intimidated by LeBron James.

This won’t help.

LeBron held his annual Halloween party last night and went as Pennywise:

Other costumes:

Tristan Thompson and Khloe Kardashian as Khal Drogo and Daenerys Targaryen:

Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union as Milli Vanilli:

Isaiah Thomas as Eazy-E:

Cruisin' down the street in my '64 #ripEazyE #StraightOuttaCompton #Halloween2017

A post shared by Isaiah Thomas (@isaiahthomas) on

Kevin Love as Sting and J.R. Smith as a Conehead:

Kyle Korver as Willy Wonka:

Personally, I think Wade and Union are the big winners.