Just prior to Wednesday’s deadline, Jeremy Lin opted out of his contract with the Charlotte Hornets for next season. Lin would have stood to make $2.2 million in 2016-17, after signing a 2 year $4.3 million contract before last season.
The move was expected, given that nearly all players with the option are electing for new contracts for the 2016-2017 season. The new NBA collective bargaining agreement will raise the salary cap from $70 million in the past year to a projected $94 million. This increase will likely most benefit max-contract players, but additional income is expected to trickle down to role players as well.
Lin performed well as Kemba Walker’s backup in Charlotte this year, averaging 11.7 points, 3.0 assists, and 3.2 rebounds through 78 games. Lin only started in 13 games this year, the fewest of his NBA career since his rookie year with Golden State. With Walker emerging to be the face of the Hornets, it appears unlikely that Lin will receive many starts if he stays in Charlotte.
In an interview in Mandarin, Lin refused to state whether he planned to stay with the team, and cited his number one priority was to be happy where he is playing. He further explained that whether he starts and playing time would be a factor in that, in addition to coaching style and whether his teammates are humble. Despite not starting this year, his total minutes were up from last season on the Lakers, and only 6 mpg below where he was when he started every game for the Rockets in 2012.
Coming off the best record in franchise history and a heartbreaking Game 7 loss to the Heat, five players in the Hornets rotation are unrestricted free agents: Lin, Marvin Williams, Courtney Lee, Al Jefferson, and Nicolas Batum. This offseason will be a very important one for Charlotte in order to keep the momentum going from this season.
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