The Portland Trail Blazers are facing their final decision day on the non-guaranteed contract of wing Josh Hart. The 27 year old shooting guard/small forward is scheduled to make $12.96 million next season, but the deal is not guaranteed. The Trail Blazers can release Hart, making him an unrestricted free agent, and relieve themselves of the obligation to his salary.
Keith Smith of NBA salary site Spotrac reminds us that today is the final day for the Blazers to opt out of Hart’s deal:
Josh Hart’s contract with the Portland Trail Blazers becomes fully guaranteed at $12,960,000 if he’s not waived today.
The Blazers acquired Hart last February as part of a trade that sent franchise stalwart CJ McCollum, along with Larry Nance, Jr., to the New Orleans Pelicans. Hart averaged 14.9 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 4.1 assists in 54 appearances last year. He played only 13 games for Portland before succumbing to injuries, a spate of which struck the Blazers as they wound down a disappointing season. Hart averaged 19.9 points 5.4 rebounds, and 4.3 assists in Portland, shooting 50.3% from the field and 37.3% from the three-point arc. He played 32.1 minutes per game in Portland.
The Blazers are expected to retain Hart’s services. They would not be able to clear significant cap space by releasing him, particularly since they are also expected to re-sign restricted free agent Anfernee Simons and make a strong bid for unrestricted free agent center Jusuf Nurkic, whom they also hope to retain.
Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian cites sources indicating that the Blazers will retain Hart.
Source: Blazers fully guarantee Josh Hart’s contract that will pay him $12.9 million next season. Deadline was today. There is a mutual option for the following season.— Aaron J. Fentress (@AaronJFentress) June 25, 2022
This was absolutely a no-brainer. #RipCity
They do not have to guarantee the contract explicitly, rather not let it expire.
Most sources have the 2023-24 year of Hart’s contract listed as a player option. The NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement does not provide for true “mutual” options.