Al-Farouq Aminu is no fool.
That will take him down the opposite road of fellow-non-fool Chase Budinger, who opted into the final season of his contract.
Unlike Budinger, who’s due $5 million next season, Aminu – a Mavericks forward – is due just his $1,100,602 minimum in his player-option season.
Aminu said on Wednesday that he’d decline his option be a free agent this summer.
“I think it makes the most sense to me,” he said. “You just look for a great fit. This year, I think I found one. Hopefully, I can do the same.”
Is money important?
“I would hope to think so,” Aminu said.
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Aminu outplayed a minimum contract all season, but he really reached another in the playoffs. In Dallas’ loss to the Rockets, he averaged 11.2 points (making 17-of-31 shots, including 7-of-11 3-pointers), 7.2 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.6 blocks in 30.0 minutes per game. He also spent significant time guarding James Harden reasonably effectively considering Harden is an MVP candidate.
I doubt Aminu can maintain those numbers – especially the outside shooting – but considering he’s just 24, there’s hope this was a breakout performance rather than an aberration.
At minimum, Aminu should continue to display his defensive versatility. At 6-foot-9, can guard power forwards, small forward and shooting guards. I wouldn’t hesitate to put him on point guards or centers in stretches. That makes him an ideal fit as teams increasingly look to switch on defense.
I expect Aminu to get multiple offers in the mid-level exception range – taxpayer: $3,376,000, non-taxpayer: $5,464,000 – and I’d hardly be surprised if a team went over the top to ensure landing him.
Will it be the Mavericks? They have to figure out Tyson Chandler and Monta Ellis, and they have their eyes on bigger fish like DeAndre Jordan and LaMarcus Aldridge. I’m sure Dallas wants to keep Aminu, but he’s the type of player who slips through the cracks. Just look how the Mavericks got him last year.
Nobody’s getting Aminu for the minimum this year, though. He’ll fetch well more than that, which is why opting out was the clear right move.