The Wizards will not pick up the $2.2 million team option on the fourth year of Chris McCullough’s rookie contract, according to Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders and Ben Standig of Locked on Wizards. The team had until midnight on Tuesday to make the decision.
The decision means Chris McCullough will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. Washington can still choose to keep his Bird Rights, which would allow them to re-sign McCullough without going over the cap, but they will not be able to match an offer sheet he gets from another team.
Washington had referred to McCullough as last year’s first round pick, since he was acquired from Brooklyn as part of the deal to acquire Bojan Bogdanovic and send out Andrew Nicholson. However, none of Washington’s moves since the deal have reinforced that notion. The team sent him to the D-League shortly after acquiring him, signed two combo forwards with similar skills to two-way deals this summer, and have only played him once this season, during the closing minutes of their blowout win over the Kings.
McCullough’s combination of size and shooting ability still makes him an intriguing prospect, but it’s hard to see where he fits in the team’s short or long-term plans. With Markieff Morris returning to the lineup soon, it’s going to be even harder for the Wizards to find playing time for McCullough moving forward.
It will be interesting to see if the team tries to move McCullough before the trade deadline. Offloading his salary would help lower the team’s tax bill, but with the premium on cap space in the current market, it might cost more than it’s worth to send him out. In the meantime, here’s to hoping he provides some more highlights when he gets a chance on the floor.