C.J. Watson to Opt Out, Here’s How Much #Nets Can Pay Him

According to Mike Mazzeo of ESPNNewYork, C.J. Watson will opt out of his contract with the Nets. Watson signed a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal for the 2012-13 season with a player option for a second season.

If Watson opts out of the second year as expected, he will become an unrestricted free-agent on July 1.

Moke Hamilton, NBA Analyst

No surprise here. Watson is one of the league’s more productive backup point guards, in my opinion. Personally, I am a bit surprised that the Nets were able to sign him for a minimum deal last summer. I expect him to fetch more on the open market this summer, but time will tell.

One small correction should be made to Mazzeo’s account. Mazzeo cites his source as saying that the Nets can only offer Watson another minimum salary deal since they do not have his Bird rights. Half of that is true. Since Watson played only one season with the Nets, the team does not have his Bird rights or his “early” Bird rights. However, the Nets could use what is known as the “non-Bird” exception to re-sign Watson.

The non-Bird exception is available to a team that wishes to re-sign a player that is neither a Bird free-agent or non-Bird free-agent. Yes, it is somewhat confusing, but we saw the exact same situation with the New York Knicks and J.R. Smith last summer.

Using the exception would allow the Nets to re-sign Watson for a four-year deal worth a total of $6.1 million. Watson would be eligible for a first-year salary of $1.43 million, which is actually 20 percent higher than what his minimum salary would be. It may not seem like a major difference, but once the agents and front office people crunch the numbers, the Nets may have a little advantage here.

The biggest issue with Watson is playing time. He sees himself as a fairly productive player and may want some assurance from coach Jason Kidd that he will be given adequate playing time if he is to re-sign. Let’s see how this one plays out.