Report: Cavaliers declining Ante Zizic’s rookie-scale team option

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The Kyrie Irving Celtics-Cavaliers trade wasn’t as monumental as it initially appeared.

Irving quickly wore out his welcome in Boston and left for the Nets in free agency last summer. Cleveland flipped Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder their first season there. Though the Cavs have Collin Sexton (drafted with the Nets pick acquired in the Irving trade), only one actual player in the Irving trade remains where he went in that deal:

Ante Zizic

And he might not be long for the Cavaliers, considering they’re declining the $3,872,215 fourth-year option on his rookie-scale contract.

Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com:

The Cleveland Cavaliers informed center Ante Zizic that they will not pick up his fourth-year option for the 2020-21 season, league sources tell cleveland.com.

Sources say the Cavs like Zizic and there’s a “strong possibility” that they attempt to bring him back this summer.

Zizic is still under contract for the rest of this season. So, of course the Cavaliers would say they’re interested in re-signing him next summer, when he’ll be an unrestricted free agent. Why besmirch someone still on the team?

But declining this option shows how Cleveland values Zizic. That’s a relatively low salary to guarantee a decent 22-year-old, especially considering, if the Cavs exercised his option, they could make him a restricted free agent in 2021. That’s a lot of team control out the window.

Zizic isn’t healthy to begin the season. He also didn’t engender much confidence the prior two seasons, though. The 6-foot-10 center lacks the athleticism to protect the rim or defend on the perimeter. He has nice touch around the basket, but his poor hands limit his scoring opportunities. He rebounds well.

Maybe there’s a role for him in the NBA. The Cavaliers just aren’t ready to guarantee him $3,872,215 next season to find out.