Did Milwaukee pick up Gustavo Ayon’s option? Yes. Will they have to do so again in a week? Also yes.
July 15th, 2013

Gustavo Ayon, thinking of victims

A month ago, it was widely reported via all media outlets (though seemingly originating from Mexico) that the Bucks had picked up Gustavo Ayon’s team option for next season.

This week, the story’s doing the rounds that the Bucks need to pick up his option. This, on the surface, rather counters the former.

In reality, both are right. The confusion stems from the terminology used. Only one is actually an option – the other just functions much like one. An explanation follows.

As explain in a couple of blog posts, but firstly this one of 2010, no one really gives out team options any more. All rookie scale contracts have two of them, but very very few other contracts do – indeed, headed into this offseason, there were only six in total in the entire league (Francisco Garcia, Dante Cunningham, Jodie Meeks, Mario Chalmers, John Lucas III and Ayon). With all of those having been decided upon this summer, we see then that, unless only fresh ones were given out in this summer’s contracts – and none have as of yet – there will be no non-rookie scale team options in the league at all. That’s how rare they are.

Ayon, though, was one of the rare few to have one. Yet his case is itself a further exception.

You’d think that team options gave you a year. They do, pretty much – a team option is a decision at the team’s discretion as to whether they wish to extend the contract for one season at prearranged terms. And they can only ever be for one year – not two, nor three, or part of one, but for one whole year. In saying yes and exercising the team option, the team validates the year’s contract, and it becomes in force.

But while doing this extends the contract, it doesn’t guarantee it. You can exercise an option and still have your contract be unguaranteed.

It is true that this is never normally a problem – those prearranged terms almost always call for the option year salary to be fully guaranteed, because the decision to determine whether such salary is paid is already covered by the presence of the option. By its very nature, the team option itself is already a sufficient means of determining whether the player is worthy of the salary, and having some or all of the base salary be subject to a lack of skill unguarantee is thus not needed. Normally.

It is, however, possible. And this is what has happened with Ayon. Even though his team option was exercised, Ayon’s contract is still fully unguaranteed if he is waived on or before July 25th. And, in accordance with the oft-discussed confusion between TO’s and unguaranteed years which always, yet technically erroneously, sees the latter be referred to as the former, this guarantee date is being reported as a team option. Therein is how we’ve arrived at the point whereby one player seems to have had two team options on the same season in a month. He essentially has, but, via the rules of pedantry, such a scenario can only be understood via examining the particulars of the language and the contract.

This situation isn’t entirely unique – Toronto once did it with Jamario Moon. It is, however, very rare. So rare that this is only the second instance of it happening that I have ever heard of. And the first one to ever matter.

Posted by at 11:46 AM

4 Comments about Did Milwaukee pick up Gustavo Ayon’s option? Yes. Will they have to do so again in a week? Also yes.

  1. Unknown16 July, 2013, 8:19 pm

    Mark, if you wanted to be the terminology purist that I know you like to be – as do so many of us – you wouldn't couch an article about Milwaukee's July 25 decision as "picking up their option." It's an opportunity to waive at no cost, as you know. But there is no "option" in play.

    Your title, referencing an option, is therefore cutesy but somewhat misleading and quite inaccurate. This is about a looming change in the cost to waive him, and they will either waive him at some point or do nothing. But they won't pick up an option on July 25.

    • Mark Deeks16 July, 2013, 9:58 pm

      Reading beyond the title provides sufficient clarity, I feel.

  2. Dave19 July, 2013, 4:46 am

    So this is a possibly the best way for a team to maximize options. If they think a better deal can be reached with the player and he wants to stay or sign & trade then it makes sense to decline the option and keep the player's bird rights (or lesser versions). If the team decides that the player has trade value even in terms of salary filler then they have a window to try and facilitate something. Smarts teams with open cap space should look to overpay a enough to have these unguaranteed team options tacked on.

    Teams like Dallas should have pushed for contracts like Ayon's as part of a flexible strategy if they were going to go out an sign leftovers anyway. Ellis and Ellington make much more sense if they would have been signed like that in my opinion. Well, it is fun to think about anyway even if teams don't really utilize it.

    • Mark Deeks19 July, 2013, 7:15 am

      Both parties have to be complicit, and there's not much in it for the player here except limbo.