According to a press release from the Philadelphia 76ers, the team has exercised the rookie-scale options on the contracts of Ben Simmons, Dario Saric and Markelle Fultz for the ‘19-’20 season:
Philadelphia 76ers General Manager Elton Brand announced today that the team has exercised the rookie-scale options on the contracts of Markelle Fultz, Dario Šarić and Ben Simmons. By exercising the options, these players will be under contract with the 76ers for the 2019-20 season.
Left out of that press release is Furkan Korkmaz, meaning the team declined to guarantee themselves a third season of poppin’ the Kork. Without picking up their team option, Korkmaz is now scheduled to become a free agent after this current season. This signals a few things:
- The Sixers have their eyes set on the 2019 free agency period, and wish to maximize cap space in preparation
- The Sixers have not been encouraged by the (lack of) development from Korkmaz
- Bryan Colangelo passed on at least two solid players in Pascal Siakam and Dejounte Murray in order to select two other players, Korkmaz and Luwawu-Cabarrot, who will not be on the Sixers just three years removed from being drafted.
Simmons and Saric will now be on the last year of their rookie deals next season, giving the Sixers two starters at bargain prices with Ben scheduled to make just $8.1 million and Saric scheduled to make just $3.48 million. The flip side is that the Sixers will have to extend Simmons with, in all likelihood, a max contract at some point next year. On top of that, Philly needs to start planning now for how to approach Saric’s restricted free agency after the ‘19-’20 season. I imagine the Sixers would love to extend Saric, but if Elton Brand and the front office are able to score big next offseason, getting into a bidding war over Saric could be a tough situation to navigate. Avoiding such a scenario by addressing it in advance could be to the benefit of the Sixers.
As for Fultz, this was obvious because the team had no choice but to exercise his option. It’s waaaay too early to cut bait for nothing in return. As uncomfortable as Markelle has looked at times, there have been some recent flashes and there’s still a chance Fultz is able to live up to his draft position. He’s essentially still a rookie, and the Sixers need to be patient for now.
One final transaction during all of this was a demotion to the G-League for Jonah Bolden, as he’s simply not yet ready for the NBA. He’s totaled just 15 minutes and appeared in only four games this season.