The Orlando Magic didn’t exercise R.J. Hampton’s rookie scale fourth-year team option for the 2023-24 season, multiple sources told the Orlando Sentinel Friday evening.
The Magic exercised the third-year team options on Jalen Suggs and Franz Wagner and the fourth-year team options on Cole Anthony and Chuma Okeke for next season, multiple sources said.
The organization confirmed the Sentinel’s reporting, announcing they exercised the 2023-24 options for Anthony, Okeke, Suggs and Wagner.
Monday is the league-wide deadline for teams to pick up rookie scale options.
With the Magic not picking up his team option, Hampton will become an unrestricted free agent in July, meaning he’s free to sign with any team.
The Magic can still re-sign Hampton as a free agent. If they re-signed him, the Magic would be capped at paying Hampton $4.2 million in the first year of his new contract according to Spotrac — the amount of his declined option.
Hampton’s fourth-year option not being picked up was slightly surprising. Most former first-round picks have their third- and fourth-year team options as part of their rookie scale contracts exercised.
What made the decision less surprising is Hampton hasn’t been a consistent part of the rotation.
Before Friday’s win over the Charlotte Hornets, Hampton was averaging 11 minutes, playing in four of the Magic’s five games.
He played 9 minutes in the Oct. 22 loss to the Boston Celtics and 7 minutes in Monday’s loss to the New York Knicks. Hampton was a healthy scratch in Wednesday’s loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the first time that’s happened since the Magic acquired him from the Denver Nuggets in March 2021.
Hampton was a consistent part of last season’s rotation, averaging 21.9 minutes and playing in all 64 games he was available for, including 14 starts. He averaged 21.9 minutes in the Magic’s five preseason games, suggesting
“I really can’t say there have been things I’ve been told that have been pinpointed as far as why I’m not getting consistent minutes or the minutes aren’t the same as preseason,” Hampton told the Orlando Sentinel ahead of Friday’s game, before the Magic announced their decisions on the options.
“A lot of it is just staying ready. It sounds cliché but it’s the truth. You never know when your opportunities going to come. When it does, you have to be ready for it. When I get that opportunity, I’ll be ready.”
With Anthony (right internal oblique muscle injury), Markelle Fultz (fractured left big toe), Gary Harris (left knee injury recovery) and Jalen Suggs (sprained right ankle) sidelined, Hampton had 9 points (2-of-7), 4 assists, 4 rebounds and 2 steals in a season-high 25 minutes Friday.
This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Khobi Price at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @khobi_price.