The Minnesota Timberwolves have been very busy this offseason, extending Nikola Pekovic and acquiring Kevin Martin, Chase Budinger and Corey Brewer via free agency. But there's still another major decision to make before the new season begins: whether to pick up the fourth-year option on Derrick Williams' rookie contract.
Williams, the No. 2 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, is set to make $6.3 million in the fourth and final year of his deal. The Wolves have until Oct. 31 to make a decision on that fourth year, and if they choose to decline the option, the forward will become an unrestricted free agent.
Williams has been a disappointment in his first two years, averaging 10.5 points and 5.1 rebounds while shooting 42.3 percent overall and 30.5 percent from long range. Because of Williams' inconsistency and the possible luxury tax implications of picking up his option, Wolves owner Glen Taylor admitted to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN in Minnesota that the future of the big man is up in the air:
"We'll evaluate his summer program, and how he looks coming into camp (which starts Oct. 1)," Taylor said. "I heard he is looking good."
If the Wolves do choose to exercise the option, they may lose the ability to use the full mid-level exception next summer and could find themselves in luxury tax territory for the 2014-15 season. Is Williams really worth those consequences?
SB Nation's Wolves blog Canis Hoopus examined the Williams decision, and they came to the conclusion that it may be best to cut ties with Williams rather than committing to that fourth year:
It's difficult to give up on a high draft pick (though easier when the previous front office made the pick). But it's hard to envision that picking up Williams' option is the wisest investment of $6.3 million. The fear, of course, is that he blows up and all of a sudden that contract looks good, but realistically, the chances of that are pretty small.
Declining the option would hurt Williams' value on the trade market, because it's unlikely a team would give up an asset just for a rental. However, his trade value is already rather low, and it won't increase with that $6.3 million fourth year attached unless he shows significant improvement. And as Canis Hoopus says, the chances of that aren't all that high.